Breathalyzer Use Still a Point of Contention

It’s not rocket science, although one might wonder when faced with some of the latest breathalyzers on the market. The fancier they get, the more legal challenges they generate.

Law enforcement loves breathalyzers for what secrets they tell about a driver suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. The problem lately is that some of the newer models being used in the field – the Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 8000 – are being fought tooth and nail by attorneys because of the admissibility of the results.

It seems the major problem is that the company that makes these interesting machines isn’t in any mood to share their source code. While this may be just a company protecting its technology and the right to protect its patent, etc., it is also a major stumbling block with DUI attorneys who are rightfully pointing out that their clients can’t get a fair trial without being able to see if the source code actually works properly and more importantly, accurately.

While this might not concern too many people, it concerns the legal community because recently a Florida judge booted more than 100 DUI cases out of court because the court couldn’t get a look at the source code. “This makes a major difference in how people are defended. It’s their basic rights we’re talking about,” stated Orlando person injury lawyer, Tony C. Francis.

The issue is that unreliable or possibly inaccurate source code in these machines may offer inaccurate blood alcohol test results. “If that happens,” added Francis, “this may mean convicting innocent drivers.” Although many of the courts across the country are ordering manufacturers to cough up the code so the defense may inspect it, there hasn’t been much success to date.

Where this issue will end up is anyone’s guess, but suffice it to say that it certainly goes right to the heart of an accused’s right to have all relevant information at their disposal. If we are charging and convicting people who are innocent of the crime of driving while under the influence, we need to remedy this situation before further injustice is done.

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