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The DUI Guide: DUI Evidentiary Breath Test Devices (Intoxilyzer)

Posted by attorney David Jolly

Published with permission from the book, DUI/DWI: The History of Driving Under the Influence, David N. Jolly. Outskirts Press (2009)

The DUI Guide: DUI Evidentiary Breath Test Devices


Like the Breathalyzer 2000 the Intoxilyzer is an infrared breath test analyzer. The machines were once manufactured by CMI, Inc. but are now manufactured by MPD, Inc. of Owensboro, Kentucky. The breath testing device was developed in 1971 by Richard A. Harte of Omicron Systems Corporation of Palo Alto, CA, and was originally called the "Omicron Intoxilyzer." Varying models of the "Intoxilyzer" are in use by more than 35 states, and nearly 30 states have it as their sole breath testing device. It is by far the most widely used breath testing device in the United States.

All Intoxilyzers measure the amount of infrared light absorbed by ethyl alcohol in a subject’s breath sample. Every Intoxilyzer works on the same basic premises except for the Intoxilyzer 5000, which uses a computerized mode. Problems with the Intoxilyzer have been the machine’s issues with acetone detection and other IR related problems as experienced with the IR Breathalyzer devices.

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