Reliability of breathalyzer machine called into question - KCTV5 News

Reliability of breathalyzer machine called into question

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First, the blood tests in Scottsdale came under fire; now, a popular breathalyzer machine is facing similar criticism. And that means even more DUI cases could be tossed out.
The story starts halfway across the country in Ohio, where a judge said the same machine used by Valley officers isn't reliable. 

If you get pulled over and are suspected of driving drunk, many police agencies will either issue a blood test or a breath test. The breath machine they use is the Intoxilyzer 8000, and it's the same one under attack in Ohio. 

Attorneys representing a group of consolidated DUI cases in Ohio have argued the Intoxilyzer 8000 isn't a fair judge of how drunk someone is. 

They claim the breathalyzer machine hasn't been tested thoroughly, isn't able to detect contaminating substances in the sample and will give a higher blood alcohol reading the longer you blow into it.   

And now, a state Supreme Court judge agrees, saying the only testing this machine has gone through has been done by law enforcement. And attorneys here in the Valley are closely watching. 

"This is not a machine that Arizona should use," said DUI attorney Craig Rosenstein. "This is not a good machine. It is legendarily bad."

Law enforcement agencies here in the Valley would not go on camera, but Phoenix police and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office said they mainly use blood draws in DUI stops. Tempe, Glendale and Surprise police said they use blood and breath tests depending on the situation, and if they issue a breath test, they use the Intoxilyzer 8000. They said they, too, are monitoring what's going on in Ohio. 

"We're not saying everyone who's arrested for DUI is innocent," Rosenstein said. "What we're saying is, is the test that's being used an accurate representation of what their BAC is?"

The manufacturer of the machine sent us a statement saying:

There are many decisions made in Municipal Courts regarding DUI's across the United States on a daily basis.  The use of the Intoxilyzer 8000 has been upheld in courts throughout the U.S.  It has been thoroughly tested and approved nationally and internationally.  We read the Lancaster decision and respectfully disagree with the comments made in the decision.  We stand by the precision and accuracy of our instruments.  This case will be appealed by the local prosecutor in Ohio.   

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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