How trustworthy are the Intoxilyzer results in Florida?

An Intoxilyzer is a device used by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to test for blood alcohol content (BAC) for anybody who has been arrested for being drunk while driving (DUI). The Intoxilyzer 8000 is the most common breathalyzer used in Florida as well as many other parts of the United States. It is not the only device used to test for BAC, however, as there is also a blood test. If you have been arrested for DUI in Tampa and have been asked to have a blood alcohol test, then you can choose to take a blood test or a breath test.

The Intoxilyzer 8000 has been a controversial device in most states. In some states, it is no longer used because of its potential inaccuracies. It is quite possible that many people have been convicted of DUI because of false readings obtained by the Intoxilyzer 8000. If you have blown into a breathalyzer in Florida and the police have convicted you because your BAC reading was above 0.08, the legal blood alcohol limit, then your DUI attorney may be able to contest the charge, due to potential inaccuracies.

There are a number of concerns with the Intoxilyzer 8000 which makes it far from foolproof as a device for measuring blood alcohol levels.

These concerns can be summarized as:

  • inadequate level of training used by the operator
  • the procedure for use not being followed correctly
  • interference by radio controlled devices in the vicinity
  • inadequate cleanliness of the device
  • calibration of the device being faulty
  • defective Intoxilyzers being used and not remedied sufficiently
  • pre existing health condition of the accused interfering with results
  • medications used by the accused interfering with the results.

The Intoxilyzer 8000 has had more than its fair share of criticisms and the FDLE has been attempting to address some of the complaints by an examination of its existing machines. All Intoxilyzers are supposed to be notified to the United States Federal Department of Transport (USDOT) for conformity before being used, or after any modification. The manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 8000, CMI, has apparently had to modify the device over 17 times since the original release date in 2002, but 16 of these 17 modifications have not been verified for conformity and therefore could still be potentially defective. Not every jurisdiction in Florida is therefore necessarily using devices that have been verified for conformity for existing inaccuracies.

The situation has been complicated by the fact that the use of results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 may not be valid in some individual counties within Florida. In November 2012, for instance, Judge Carr of Collier County declared that he would not allow the use of results from the device to be used in evidence in his court, because it was not sufficiently accurate and could allow an innocent person to be convicted. He did so after an examination of the information relating to the lack of conformity that the machines had received from the USDOT since manufacture.

If you are arrested for DUI, you will need to consent to taking a blood alcohol test at the police station or face possible criminal charges under Florida’s implied consent rules. You should do this even if you refused a field sobriety test or roadside breath test when asked to do so by a police officer when they stopped your car. However, if you have had a breath test and it has shown a reading of greater than 0.08 your BAC reading can be challenged with the help of an experienced DUI attorney in Tampa.


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