New Breath Testing Device, Intoxilyzer 9000, Coming to Georgia

     Between now and the end of 2015 every Intoxilyzer 5000 in Georgia will be replaced by the Intoxilyzer 9000.  The Division of Forensic Sciences claims the new breath testing instrument is very accurate; however, the handful of “experiments” done during the evaluation period does not support DOFS claims. Their initial experiment on February 15, 2012, was limited to three drinking subjects who were tested at different time intervals and asked to provide both a “minimum exhalation” (instructed to stop blowing when the delivered sample volume was between 1.1 and 1.5 liters) and a “maximum exhalation” (blow, blow, blow). The only female subject was tested 15 minutes after her last drink, and her results were .063 and .073. One of the young male subjects, tested at 30 minutes after he stopped drinking, registered .042 and .045. The last young man, tested 24 minutes after his last drink, blew a .056 followed by a .064. Clearly, neither the first nor the last subject’s test results were within 5 percent of the mean. DOFS seems to have ignored their own requirements, but these results certainly justify encouraging subjects to blow until they cannot blow any longer if your objective is to obtain convictions.

Unlike the Intoxilyzer 5000-EN the new device will print a breath volume for each test. When the 5000-EN was first delivered to DOFS in 1998, it did the same. However, Jim Panter, head of the Implied Consent section at the time, ordered that this capability be disengaged when a person provided an adequate sample because it was “confusing.” Therefore, the 5000-EN only printed a breath volume (in theory) when it reported an insufficient sample. The 9000, as currently configured, will print a breath volume for all cases. The Operator’s Manual instructs officers to encourage subjects to provide a maximum exhalation, because “the longer you blow, the higher you go.

The Division of Forensic Sciences maintains that a person’s breath alcohol concentration is ultimately the product of a continual exchange of ethanol between the blood and breath that occurs in the pulmonary alveoli. DOFS acknowledges that some (“a substantial amount of”) alcohol can be lost to the cooler airway surfaces as the breath moves through the respiratory tract. What they do not acknowledge is the work of Dr. Michael Hlastala, which establishes the alcohol is also “picked up” as a breath sample travels up the respiratory system. He has also demonstrated that true alveolar air cannot be obtained, contrary to assumptions made by chemists sixty years ago, but those assumptions continue to dominate the world of breath alcohol testing.

      Another crucial area examined by DOFS during the evaluation phase was the potential for other volatile organic chemicals to interfere with test results. Few of the experiments were conducted when ethanol was present along with the other chemical. Nevertheless, there some notable findings. Acetaldehyde did not trigger an interferent message until it was present in a concentration of .06g/dl. However, at a concentration of .05, it generated a BrAC of .007.  Acetone did not generate a BrAC reading but was also not detected as an interferent until it was present in a concentration .10g/ml. Other substances such as ethylacetate, toluene, and isobutanol triggered error messages in concentrations as law a .01, while methanol was detected at .02. On the other hand, MEK did not trigger either a reading or an error message at concentrations lower than .10g / ml, once again in the absence of alcohol. Methylene chloride did not produce a reading or an error message at levels up to and including .10g/ml. 

       A number of other experiments were performed. One that caught our attention was the linear range test conducted on February 10, 2012. With a Guth simulator solution heated to 33.9 degrees Celsius, twenty tests were conducted, with an expected value of .08. Only two returned readings under 08, six readings were exactly at .08, and twelve were in excess of .08. Since this machine, like every CMI product on the market, assumes a breath temperature of 34 degrees, these results could be invaluable for a breath temperature defense at low readings. As an aside, the limit of detection shown by the one experiment shows that the lowest number detected was a .013, which was reported as .010.

       A number of states (e.g., South Carolina, Oklahoma) have been downloading breath test data to a central repository for years. DOFS has insisted that the handwritten logs maintained by the individual departments was sufficient, despite obvious omissions a number of us have encountered. One of the criteria for approval of the new Georgia breath testing device was the capability of the device to download data. The Georgia Breath Test Transition Implementation Plan dated June 15, 2012, states that the Division of Forensic Sciences will obtain the COBRA instrument database system for data retrieval from field instruments and seat licenses for each of the Area Supervisors. How this database will be employed remains to be seen, but if done properly it will enable us to detect ongoing problems with particular machines that are currently very difficult to identify. We do know that all Intoxilyzer 9000’s must be connected to the DOFS network through a LAN or data connection by July, 2015. 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

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