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Breathalyzer devices are routinely used to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) of individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI). The readings obtained from these devices are then used against a given suspect in court, should the results indicate that the suspect’s BAC is over the legal limit of .08 for adults aged 21 and older. However, these devices are notoriously unreliable.

The Florida Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case centered on the reliability of breathalyzer devices. The outcome will assuredly impact a high percentage of drunk driving cases brought in the Sunshine State. At the heart of the case is the CMI Inc. Corporation, which supplies Florida law enforcement with the only models of breathalyzers whose results are considered admissible evidence in the state’s criminal courts.

Three drunk driving defendants are arguing that they should be granted access to documents that pertain to CMI’s breathalyzer software. However, there is a procedural dispute before the court about how one must go about obtaining this critical information. Yet, it is not the procedure that is of great interest to DUI defendants and criminal rights activists all over Florida.

Rather, concerned parties are focused on the fact that absent access to this documentation, it is difficult to justify allowing potentially defective or biased software to be admitted as evidence for a serious crime. However, the Florida Supreme Court must clear up this procedural hurdle before the documentation can be obtained at all. Only then can it be analyzed and appropriately challenged or accepted by those it affects.

Source: Sunshine State News, “Will Florida Supreme Court Make DUI Breathalyzers Inadmissible?” Eric Giunta, Feb. 6, 2013

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Andrew Moses

Andrew has been practicing criminal law his entire career. After graduating from law school he began working as an Assistant State Attorney prosecuting cases in Orange and Osceola Counties. During his time as an Assistant State Attorney, Andrew handled all types of cases ranging from misdemeanors to such serious felonies as drug trafficking and armed robbery. His experience as a prosecutor helped him gain perspective of the criminal justice system and how the government established its cases.

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