Accuracy of Breath Test Equipment Challenged in Florida

Just this past spring the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced use of federal funds to purchase the latest breath test
equipment, the Intoxilyzer 8000. The new equipment was to provide higher reliability than its often maligned predecessor. Now it appears that the new machine software has an anomaly that, according to Florida DUI defense attorneys, may result in false alcohol readings.

State officials learned in September that the Intoxilyzer 8000 failed in certain situations and it is now requesting a software upgrade. Florida DUI defense attorneys fear that this may be only the first of many problems with the equipment and they are planning to call into question its reliability. According to Florida law, law enforcement can only use breath-test equipment that yields reliable results.

The FDLE did not know about the problem with the Intoxilyzer 8000 until after a meeting with a DUI defense attorney. A subsequent review of thousands of breath tests found 190 cases of an anomaly that was attributed to software.

Though the conditions under which the software glitch occurs is rare, a breath-test result is one of the more compelling pieces of evidence used by the prosecution in a DUI case. A false DUI conviction could lead to job loss, fines, suspension of driver’s license and even imprisonment which is why DUI defense attorneys are quick to point out the need for accuracy and certification.

Four hundred Intoxilyzer 8000 machines are being used in the state of Florida. Given the concern for accuracy, the latest software issue may result in a nationwide legal challenge to the equipment.

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