Ohio Rejects Popular Breathalyzer: Accuracy Challenged

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on December 2nd, 2008

As readers here know, I’ve posted extensively in recent months about the need to know the secret software controlling various breath-testing machines – and the growing number of courts across the country that are ordering the manufacturers to divulge this critical information.  See, for example, Judge Orders Secrets of Breath Machine RevealedJudge: Divulge Breathalyzer Code…or Else, and Second Manufacturer Must Reveal  Breathalyzer Secrets

The manufacturers of these machines continue to thumb their noses at the courts, unwilling to let anyone see what is inside these "black boxes" that act as judge and jury in DUI cases.  See Breathalyzer Manufacturer Thumbs Nose at Courts, Secret Breathalyzer Software Still Secret .

In what may be a growing trend, the State of Ohio announced yesterday that it is cancelling massive purchases of one of the machines, the popular Intoxilyzer 8000, citing the questions of reliability raised in the court challenges in other states.


State Reverses $6.4 Million Purchase Order for Controversial Drunken-Driving Testing Machine

Columbus, OH.  Dec. 1  -  The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday pulled a $6.4 million order it approved just two weeks ago for the purchase of a controversial drunken-driving testing machine.

The board unanimously agreed to reconsider releasing funds to purchase 700 breath-testing machines from a Kentucky company after The Plain Dealer reported that the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 8000 is being challenged in courts in several states…

The machine’s accuracy is being challenged in Florida, Arizona and Minnesota where thousands of cases have either been delayed or dismissed because CMI has refused court orders to release the machines’ source code, or software.

Defense attorneys have said they need the codes to show that the machines are flawed and can easily be manipulated. And while CMI has promised to release the software to attorneys here if the machines came under litigation, attorneys say the confidential agreement they would have to abide by would make the information useless.

Furthermore, it might be a moot point. (Public Safety Department counsel Joshua) Engel predicted "we will not see any lawsuits in Ohio" because the Ohio Supreme Court established in an earlier ruling that the accuracy of drunken driving testing machines could not be brought up as a defense.


It looks like Ohio is asking themselves the same question I’ve been asking:  "What are they hiding?".  Oh, and let me repeat that last paragraph in the news story:


(Public Safety Department counsel Joshua) Engel predicted "we will not see any lawsuits in Ohio" because the Ohio Supreme Court established in an earlier ruling that the accuracy of drunken driving testing machines could not be brought up as a defense.


What?  An American citizen accused of driving over .08% is not permitted to question the accuracy of the machine — the only blood-alcohol evidence in the case?

Yep.  Ohio is the only state in the country saying that if a breath machine is approved for use by the State, it’s accuracy cannot be challenged in court.  See the Ohio Supreme Court case of State v. Vega, 12 Ohio St.3d 185, 465 N.E.2d 1303 (1984). 

The DUI Exception to the Constitution lives on….

  

Share
  • David W

    Oh, and let me repeat that last paragraph in the news story:

    (Public Safety Department counsel Joshua) Engel predicted “we will not see any lawsuits in Ohio” because the Ohio Supreme Court established in an earlier ruling that the accuracy of drunken driving testing machines could not be brought up as a defense.

    What? An American citizen accused of driving over .08% is not permitted to question the accuracy of the machine — the only blood-alcohol evidence in the case?

    Yep. Ohio is the only state in the country saying that if a breath machine is approved for use by the State, it’s accuracy cannot be challenged in court.

    A ruling like that in the land of the “free”? Certainly says alot about the condition of our protections and democracy.

    Are the Justices in Ohio related to the one’s in California? Sure sounds like it.

  • standup

    I can almost understand what makes terrorists become terrorists…

  • http://www.laduidefenseteam.com joe

    This is great news, and hopefully more states will increase their scrutiny of these machines. There needs to be complete transparency within those companies to let the public know why one breath could lead to years of legal and DMV troubles.

  • David W

    It is good news overall, but it still doesn’t help Ohio’s populace if they get charged and the machines are not calibrated properly or tampered with in the process.

    I just fail to believe their ruling that challenging the machines accuracy and readings is not allowed. That is conviction by a machine.

  • RichardAlan

    It’s extremely difficult to deal with ‘Fantasy Make Believe, or Alice In Wonderland” type of mentality from the police, the courts, and the DMV.

    Yes one breath and your life is destroyed.
    I’m sitting in my home, Hiding from what?
    I don’t really know, the truth is my creditors are calling, I have not paid my bills in 9 months, I have no income to pay rent, no job I can apply for to supplement my loss, because my license is suspended, lost my business… $85,000 of income gone,

    Just had my phone shut off…. all for driving down the highway, being tailgated with high-beams and accused of this make believe fantasy that I had to defend myself from….

    It’s been over a year since the stop, and I’m not able to make myself whole again.

    All of this has happened to me, and my case was dismissed…. it’s the tyranny of the DMV absent a conviction and or due process.

    At least I wake up, piss, crap, and can eat.