Friday, February 12, 2010
Are Breath Testing Machines Reliable?
One of the linch-pins of DUI enforcement in Utah is a machine called the Intoxilyzer. The latest version is called the Intoxilyzer 8000 and is manufactured by a company called CMI, Inc.
Unfortunately, we don't know if the Intoxilyzer 8000 works. In my experience and based on my research, CMI has never allowed independent researchers to test the machine to verify that it accurately measures breath alcohol levels or that those breath alcohol levels correlate to blood alcohol levels. CMI refuses to sell the machine to anyone but law enforcement agencies and will not even supply information about its software.
California DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor writes on his blog that "In the one case where the manufacturer (Draeger) obeyed a court order — from the New Jersey Supreme Court — the machine involved (AlcoTest 7110) was found to use antiquated software that failed to meet even the most basic governmental and industrial standards."
So, does the Intoxilyzer 8000 work? We don't know. But people are being convicted and often jailed based on a machine that has never been externally verified and may have inaccurate software.