Advancements in technology are supposed to mean just that: advancement, improvement. New generations of machines are meant to be stronger, sleeker, more reliable, more efficient, and more accurate than the last generation. Unfortunately, CMI, Inc., the company that manufactures the Intoxilyzer line of breath-testing machines, is bucking the trend.
Since as early as 2009 there have been legal concerns in Florida over the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 8000, the newest model currently in use. Recent challenges in Ohio have brought the machine and manufacturer under further scrutiny. According to Harlan Spector of cleveland.com, due to Intoxilyzer 8000 tests’ unreliability, multiple Ohio municipalities have stopped using the machines in DUI investigations. Reliability, of course, is the whole idea of using a chemical breath test as evidence. As a judge in Painesville, Ohio put it, “These machines are judge and jury,” and that’s why it’s surprising that CMI, Inc. and many court systems have been reluctant to be forthright or hear challenges concerning the accuracy of Intoxilyzer machines. Considering the costs of a DUI conviction, the accuracy of marquee evidence should not be taken for granted, though there are other factors to consider.
Georgia is still using the Intoxilyzer 5000, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has approved the next generation Intoxilyzer 9000 for implementation this year with a gradual phase-in until 2015. The GBI made their decision after a thorough study of state-of-the-art breath testing machines, which sheds some light on why the Intoxilyzer line has been so popular. The 9000 scored high marks for user-friendliness, quality and cost control, and maintenance convenience. CMI, Inc. was evaluated as well, and its prevalence in the breath-testing market and various accreditations influenced the overall score of the Intoxilyzer 9000. Convenience aside, our analysis of the GBI report exposes some of its deficiencies in regards to accuracy as compared to other brands. So, is the 9000 truly more accurate than the 8000 or 5000, especially considering the myriad legal challenges brought against those machines? Is CMI, Inc. simply making a slightly updated machine and selling it to state governments as a new and improved product? For now, it’s unclear, but one thing is certain. If there is reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of an Intoxilyer breath test, steadfast DUI defense lawyers will do whatever it takes to convey that doubt and not let a breath test result take the place of a real Judge and Jury.