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More problems with the CMI, Inc., Intoxilyzer 8000s in Florida raise new questions about Georgia’s aging fleet of Intoxilyzer 5000 DUI breath machines

Both Georgia and Florida buy their official state-administered breath test machines from CMI, Inc. of Owensboro, Kentucky.   A recent review of the “pressure transducer” of 231 of Florida’s Intoxilyzer 8000s has revealed that 40% of the machines register the wrong breath volume.  Breath volume is a critical factor in determining blood alcohol content based on breath.  The legal limit in Georgia is 0.08 grams of alcohol in 2.1 liters of air.  About 1.1 liters of air exist in the mouth and throat, but it is the crucial last liter that contains the deep lung air where alcohol concentrations can be used to determine blood alcohol estimates.  Too little air and too much air can both underestimate and overestimate blood alcohol content.  It has long been argued that overblowing can overstate the blood alcohol reading of a person. This anomaly in Florida was discovered when a 170-pound man allegedly blew 12 liters of air from his lungs which is physically impossible.  The further review discovered the faulty “pressure transducer” which is not regularly calibrated nor checked by State breath testing agencies either in Florida or Georgia.  These same problems could not be discovered in Georgia because Georgia has had the Intoxilyzer computer code altered not to report breath volume.  This is on top of the discovery that the Intoxilyzer 8000 which performs the calibration check between every test that Georgia performs once a quarter on an early version, the Intoxilyzer 5000, was producing on average of 80 failures a month per machine. Breath testings science is far too susceptible to equipment error to be the sole foundation of a criminal conviction, jail time, and collateral consequences like the destruction of careers.

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