Major case highlights potential problems with breathalyzers

Case in Ohio shows that breathalyzer machines are not always accurate

Drivers are often under the assumption that the breath test devices used by police are almost always accurate. Therefore, when a breathalyzer test shows a driver was operating his vehicle over the legal blood alcohol content limit, he is often unlikely to challenge the validity of those results in court. However, a recent case from the Ohio Supreme Court shows that breath test results are far from infallible. Persistent problems with a device used by many police departments in that state could end up leading to charges being dropped against many DUI defendants, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Prone to error

In Ohio, defense attorneys have been challenging the state government to release records from thousands of Intoxilyzer 8000 breath testing devices. Until recently, the government had stalled in releasing the records because it said it did not have the financial and technical resources to do so.

Critics, however, maintained that authorities were nervous that the records would show a number of problems with the breathalyzer machines, which in turn could compromise thousands of cases against people charged with impaired driving. They say the Intoxilyzer 8000 is prone to human error and may give false results due to temperature variation. The Ohio Supreme Court, in ordering authorities to hand over records from the machines, noted that there were serious issues in determining the device's reliability.

Device banned

In fact, the problems with the breath test device have become so numerous that the Akron City Prosecutor's Office has told police departments in that city to stop using it, according to ABC 5 News. Although officials claimed that the move was not meant to be a condemnation of the device's accuracy, defense attorneys have nonetheless welcomed the move as a sign that the device is quickly falling out of favor.

OWI Defense in Iowa

Although the Intoxilyzer 8000 is not used in Iowa, the story does show that breathalyzer machines anywhere are prone to error. The devices used in Iowa can also give results that may be challenged in court, including if an officer fails to calibrate the device or does not following standard operating procedures before administering a breath test. Such concerns are not just mere technicalities; they exist to ensure that people are not falsely accused of breaking the law and having their rights and liberties taken away as a result.

Anybody who is currently facing an OWI charge in Iowa is likely under a great deal of stress and pressure. A conviction, after all, can have severe consequences, including restricted driving privileges, fines, and, in some cases, prison time. An experienced criminal defense attorney, however, can provide the help and guidance defendants need when faced with an OWI charge.