Police throughout the nation use them to test blood-alcohol levels in drivers suspected of DUI. A recent decision in Florida may be a setback for prosecutors and bolster the defense of those accused of the crime.
According to a recent report in the Orlando Sentinel, a panel of Orange County judges has voiced its support for a policy that will allow defense attorneys access to software used in the Intoxilyzer 8000. The device has been the official breath-testing device in Florida since 2006. Since that time it has been the target of considerable criticism and litigation. The judges announced their agreement with critics by saying that the device has been incorrect or has yielded unusual results in too many cases.
Jeff Weiner, the Sentinel reporter, writes "The judges acknowledged a 'high percentage' of tests of the device found no anomalies, but said that's not good enough: 'That the Intoxilyzer 8000 mostly works is an insufficient response when a citizen's liberty is at risk.' " The company that manufactures the Intoxilyzer is extremely resistant to releasing its software and source code, however.
The legal fight will likely continue as prosecutors continue to argue that the Intoxilyzer 8000 is an important law enforcement tool that is right far more often than it is wrong. However, the judges have erred on the side of defense and this may lead to greater protections of guaranteed rights.