Case shows breathalyzer results are not always infallible

Ohio case has drawn into question reliability of popular breath-testing device

A recent case from Ohio should serve as a reminder to driver everywhere, including in Virginia, that breath-testing devices used by police are not always as reliable as they appear. According to the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that DUI defendants are allowed to challenge the veracity of breath-test results obtained through the Intoxilyzer 8000. The device has been used by police departments throughout the country, but critics say it is prone to error.

Breath-test evidence

Generally, Ohio law does not allow DUI defendants to challenge the validity of a breath-test result measuring alcohol levels. However, in a recent ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said that the state's Department of Health must hand over Intoxilyzer 8000 results to people defending themselves against a DUI charge along with their attorneys.

However, the department has claimed it cannot handover the results because of technical limitations. Attorneys accuse the department of stalling because it does not want to reveal inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the Intoxilyzer 8000 results. If the results are not handed over, thousands of DUI convictions could be brought into question and many charges could be dropped.

Police stop using machines

The problems with the machines have become so serious that the police departments in Akron and surrounding communities have been told to stop using the Intoxilyzer 8000 by the city's Prosecutor's Office, according to NewsChannel5. Although the move was said not to reflect on the general reliability of the machines, critics have pointed out that it adds to a growing picture that the devices' accuracy may be questionable.

The devices have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Critics say that the machines' results can be influenced by factors like human error and even room temperature.

Breath-test validity

Although the above case pertains to Ohio, Virginia drivers should also take notice. Many people often assume that breathalyzer machines deliver results that are largely infallible and immune from scrutiny. However, as the above case shows, such machines may not always be accurate. Considering that a DUI conviction can have severe consequences for people, including prisons time, driving restrictions, and loss of employment, it is imperative that the very devices used to convict them stand up to scrutiny.

Anybody who is facing a DUI charge should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Such an attorney will look at a number of factors, including any alcohol-content testing performed by police, in order to assist his client in facing these serious accusations.