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Faulty Breath Tests Tossed In Florida DUI Cases

Written by Moses & Rooth on December 2, 2011

Prosecutors in two counties in Florida have withdrawn the breath tests from around 100 DUI cases, according to a story in the Herald-Tribune. The cases will still proceed, but the prosecution will rely on other evidence, said prosecutors in the article.

Intoxilyzer 8000 Problems

The Intoxilyzer 8000, a breath-testing machine, appears to have been improperly set up and may have caused numerous inaccurate measurements for years. The five machines in question operated without being properly calibrated for measuring the volume of air a suspect exhales into the machine.

The Intoxilyzer calculates the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a person by comparing the amount of alcohol vapor in the breath to the volume of air exhaled. The faulty breathalyzers appeared to measure many times over the actual breath volume.

In order to create an accurate measurement of BAC, the machine must receive enough air to ensure the sample is not skewed by residual alcohol in the mouth or throat. If the machine incorrectly measures the quantity of air, it cannot arrive at an accurate BAC.

It is also possible, according to the Herald-Tribune story, that the machine could indicate an insufficient volume, falsely implying the suspect failed to blow a sufficient breath into the machine, which in Florida can be charged as a “refusal,” i.e. where one refused to take the breath test, and cause the motorists to be subjected to a license suspension.

The state has found that as much as 40 percent of the Intoxilyzer 8000 machines were malfunctioning.

Not Foolproof

This story illustrates that even police can make mistakes when making arrests for DUI in Florida – you have a right to fight a DUI claim if you believe you were improperly charged. Moreover, additional reports from California and Pennsylvania indicate problems with other breathalyzers used by police.

Breathalyzers have been found to be faulty throughout the country; the machines may not have been properly calibrated or maintained, or, the officers may not have received proper training. All of these factors can compromise the accuracy of a breathalyzer test. Even open-and-shut cases may have their weaknesses.

Posted Under: Drunk Driving

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