By: By Frank Lewis
August 23, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
An Ohio judge has ruled that a breathalyzer machine currently used by police during drunk driving stops is unreliable.
Athens County Municipal Judge William A. Grim has opened the door for defense attorneys to challenge the reliability of a breathalyzer machine known as Intoxilyzer 8000 that is widely used by police around the state.
The Athens News, in an story in Friday’s edition, said part of the ruling was the result of a defendant who said she had a cell phone on her person at the time she was tested and that interference from cell phones can change the results of the Intoxilyzer 8000, and that police officers using that breathalyzer can can drive up the numbers they get for blood-alcohol levels by the way they administer the test.
“The court has some doubts about the precision of the Intoxilyzer 8000,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
Grim reportedly went on to include that the model was apparently never tested specifically to see if its performance can be altered by radio interference.
The Daily Times sought an opinion from Ohio State Highway Patrol Portsmouth Post Commander Lt. M.R. Gore on the matter, but he referred media requests to the OSHP office in Columbus.
“We do have both machines, the I-8000 and the Datamaster, available for our troopers to use, Lt. Anne Ralston, public affairs commander for the Ohio State Highway Patrol, told the Daily Times. “And since we are a statewide law enforcement agency, we’re guided by our local courts and prosecutor’s offices regarding use of that machine for breath testing in order to see our cases to a successful prosecution. So we’re guided by them as to which machine to use on a post by post basis around the state.”
Ralston said all of the OSHP troopers carry certification for both the Intoxilyzer 8000 and the Datamaster.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.