Intoxilyzer 5000 Breath Tests out in Florida

For many years the state of Florida used the same breath alcohol testing device currently used in Georgia, and it helped to convict tens of thousands of DUI defendants across the state. Now evidence that the Intoxilyzer 5000 might not have been as reliable as prosecutors portrayed is coming to light.  About 70 times each month in Florida the new Intoxilyzer 8000 rejects a breath test because control tests (calibration checks) are not acceptable.  Therefore, Florida defense attorneys contend that similar problems should have been at least as common with the older model.

Two top experts have said that the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test machines, which Florida used for about two decades before the state changed to the updated machines in 2006, could not meet today’s scientific requirements for ensuring accurate results.  The Intoxilyzer 5000 was only “inspected” once per month to see if the machine was working properly.  The machine now in use, the Intoxilyzer 8000, runs two calibration checks, as recommended by the National Safety Council, during every breath test.  The testimony of those experts now prevents prosecutors from introducing the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath tests in court in the small number of remaining cases where that older machine was used.

Due to the inadmissibility of the Intoxilyzer 5000 test results dozens of DUI defendants in different counties around the state have had charges dropped or reduced to reckless driving.  Unfortunately, it is too late for anyone already convicted with results from the Intoxilyzer 5000 to benefit from the situation.  Many prosecutors continue to claim that the Intoxilyzer 5000 machines were reliable, even if the scientific community now calls for better safeguards to make sure the machine is accurate.  On the other hand, defense attorneys say it is frightening to contemplate how many innocent people were convicted or saw no choice bu to plead guilty, and also lost their driver’s licenses, based on a test whose reliability is now in question.

In depositions in DUI cases this year, two state experts say the currently accepted practice is that a control test must be performed during each actual test to ensure accurate results.  Florida authorities used to say that a calibration check once per month was sufficient, but they have finally conceded that the scientific community has favored a calibration check at the time of each test for decades.  Prosecutors can still proceed with the older DUI cases without breath tests; however, a conviction requires a jury to believe that a driver was intoxicated based on police testimony or video recordings of the traffic stop.

The issue regarding the Intoxilyzer 5000 and whether its results were scientifically valid arose during the battle for access to the computer source code that runs the machines.  Defense attorneys in about 450 DUI cases questioned the reliability of the machines, and judges have ruled that the defendants should have access to the computer code inside the Intoxilyzer 5000 and 8000.  After the manufacturer refused to disclose the code, many judge have ruled that prosecutors would only be able to introduce the results if the established the admissibility of the test via expert testimony in each case.

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.