Written by attorney David Ashley Haenel

The Intoxilyzer 8000 Challenges

Three defendants were charged with DUI after receiving results related to their blood alcohol content after they blew into the Intoxilyzer 8000. Their attorneys have requested the court to require the Kentucky company that developed the machine to turn over software so that they could argue against the accuracy of the machine. The motion was previously heard by a trial court and the trial court judge granted the motion to have this evidence turned over. However, a Daytona Beach-based appellate court overruled this motion and quashed the trial judge's order. The defendants are now appealing this decision to the Florida Supreme Court. The appellate court's decision conflicts with other appellate rulings that have granted motions to defendants who seek to subpoena records from companies that were headquartered out of state. Because the Intoxilyzer 8000 is the only machine that is certified to be used in the state of Florida, its accuracy is highly relevant to the ability of DUI suspects to have a fair trial. The breathalyzer machine may have several problems that prevents it from providing an accurate reading.

Breath Quantity

The way that the Intoxilyzer 8000 works is by measuring the volume of air that a person blows into the machine. A person must blow 1.1 liters of air into the device. Furthermore, he must blow one continuous stream of air to make the machine work. If a person does not blow enough air into it, a sufficient sample will not be rendered and a person may be charged with a "refusal" even though the person complied with taking the test. Getting a refusal on a person's record provides sufficient grounds for Florida to automatically suspend the person's license. The measurement of the machine may be wrong as dozens of cases have demonstrated that there have been problems with the machine's ability to accurately record volume measurements.

Problems with Calibration

A person may blow into the machine as instructed and may still get a false reading. A machine may not be calibrated correctly, causing inaccurate readings to be rendered. The Intoxilyzer 8000 reports whether a person blew four, five, six, seven, eight or nine liters of air. However, normal breath flow would not typically exceed four liters of air. More than six liters is scientifically impossible. Therefore, the flow sensor on the machine that is responsible for calculating or estimating the volume is inaccurate, as demonstrated by the fact that it overstates the volume of air that is blown into the device. Additionally, breathalyzer machines require regular maintenance to work properly, providing another possible reason for an inaccurate reading.

Other Potential Problems with the Machine

Other scientific studies indicate problems with the Intoxilyzer 8000. Sometimes, a person must try up to twenty times to breathe into the machine to get a valid result. It is not in compliance with health department regulations in some states, and some states have been unable to prove that it is a reliable machine. Additionally, operators of the device may not operate it correctly. Because there are several problems that may arise with the machine, a DUI suspect should explore a defense that takes these factors into consideration.

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