Police and prosecutors in Florida have been relying on breath test results from a device called the Intoxilyzer to convict people of drinking and driving. The device has been around for 73 years, and its results are constantly challenged by people on trial for drinking and driving. In fact, the state hired a woman simply to travel around the state and testify about the reliability and accuracy of the Intoxilyzer.
More than 60 people accused of drinking and driving in Brevard County are questioning the use of the Intoxilyzer and claiming that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement withheld data regarding the Intoxilyzer’s failures during its initial testing.
Questioning the machine itself
Many of the previous challenges to the Intoxilyzer related to its software, while the Brevard County challenge relates to the actual machine itself. The petition alleges that the device failed three out of the four tests in 2002 and that the machine used to test the individuals in the petition has parts that were not approved. The petition alleges that the state knew about the failures and did not disclose them, costing taxpayers millions of dollars and rendering the Intoxilyzer unreliable.
The result of this petition could be far reaching. If the judge rules in favor of the petition, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would have to get the device re-approved. If the device was faulty, it could mean that other people’s convictions were inappropriate as well.
Some attorneys ask court to not rely on the Intoxilyzer’s results
Attorneys in Sarasota and Manatee counties are asking judges to refuse to rely on the Intoxilyzer when convicting people of drinking and driving. If prosecutors cannot use the Intoxilyzer’s results, they will have to work harder to prove that the person was drinking and driving by using the police officer’s observations and other evidence.
Other arguments against the Intoxilyzer are that the machines used in Florida do not provide as much data as similar machines in other states do. People also argue that defendants should have access to the Intoxilyzer’s software. The Florida Supreme Court is currently looking at a case regarding the defendant’s access to the software.
Motorists accused of drinking and driving in Florida ha ve many rights at stake, and prosecutors should not be able to rely on faulty evidence to convict them. A criminal law attorney can help people facing drinking and driving charges go through the process and make sure all the evidence used against them is proper.