Once Again, Intoxilyzers are Under Fire
In court battles played out across the country, breathalyzer tests are used again and again to send people to jail, take away their driving privileges, and impose huge fines. More and more, however, we are learning that these little machines shouldn’t have the final say.
According to The Newspaper, in Fairfax County recently a defense attorney brought the commonly used Intoxilyzer 5000 to the attention of the court for its potential malfunctions and unreliability. When counties use machines that are nearly ten years old, there is a good chance that parts have been replaced.
In the particular machine involved in this case, the chopper motor had been replaced. While replacing car parts might not be a big deal, parts in different breathalyzers aren’t as easily substituted. A new chopper motor can throw off the reliability of the whole machine.
Interestingly the manufacture of the Intoxilyzer has up until this point refused to reveal the source code used in programming the machines. They contend it is a “trade secret”, making a further mess of many DUI convictions and trials. Without knowing for certain how effective these ancient machines are we continue to send people through the justice system that may be otherwise acquitted.
The Farifax County judge agreed to allow tests to be ran on the machine to prove effectiveness. Before this could happen, however, the prosecutor offered the defendant a sweet plea agreement allowing him to keep his license and avoid jail time.
One of these days the veil of secrecy surrounding these machines will be dropped and it is likely that some will be surprised at the rate of errors. Until that time, when facing DUI charges involving a breathalyzer test, an experienced DUI defense attorney is the key to getting the best possible results.