Thursday, January 26, 2012

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Employees Get Drunk to Test Breathalyzer Machines

St. Petersburg Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how the FDLE attempted to validate the sometimes faulty Intoxilyzer 8000.


The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) recently had 15 of its employees get drunk in order to test the accuracy of their DUI chemical breath test machines, known as the breathalyzer machine or the Intoxilyzer 8000.  Although the tests were conducted by a private firm, the FDLE spent over $300 on alcohol and snacks for the participants.  The tests were administered after the employees were given a certain amount of alcohol.

The FDLE claims the tests were conducted in order to ensure the breathalyzer machines were taking accurate samples of breath alcohol concentration (BAC).  The test results were also compared to blood alcohol concentration test samples.

Although many DUI chemical breath tests have recently been thrown out in Sarasota and Manatee County courts based on how the calibration of the testing machines might affect the readings, the FDLE claims the machines show correct results, no matter how the machine was calibrated.

Why This Matters To You:

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Tampa due to the results of a chemical breath test, it is important to know you may be able to challenge the readings of the chemical test in court.  While the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would like to hold up the results of their experiment as a, “controlled scientific test,” the results are far from scientific or valid.  There were a relatively small number of participants in the test (15 to be exact), far from being statistically significant. Further, the FDLE did not report that there was a control group, or the details of their testing methodology.  As well, the test was held one time and not validated.  While the FDLE would like to use their test as a validation of the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 8000, the questions around the device’s accuracy still remain and legal challenges to its results will continue.

Some of the most common reasons a breath test machine may produce inaccurate results can include:
  • The machine was calibrated too high
  • The machine was calibrated too low
  • The person taking the test did not provide a sufficient amount of breath
  • The breath test was affected by radio frequency
  • The breath test was contaminated
  • The machine had preexisting alcohol in the chamber

What To Do Next:

If you have been charged with drinking and driving or refusing to submit to a breath test for DUI in Tampa, contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case.  Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss you case directly with an attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation.  The Morris Law Firm can help.  Attorney Melinda Morris has specific knowledge and experience in representing driving under the influence offenses throughout Pinellas County the entire Tampa Bay, FL area (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Largo, Dunedin and Bradenton).