The state of Georgia requires DUI subjects to submit to a blood, breath or urine test. Refusal to submit to such a test can result in license suspension. However, prior to taking the state’s test, law enforcement officers must advise a subject of certain rights, including the right to independent testing. An arresting officer’s failure to properly provide notice of such rights is a basis for having the state’s test results kept out of evidence at your trial.
The Intoxilyzer 5000 is the current breath-testing machine used in Georgia. Although the device is sophisticated and has the potential for accuracy and reliability, it rarely lives up to that possibility. Design flaws combined with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s selection of features on the device, and rules governing its use and maintenance by law enforcement in Georgia, make the Intoxilyzer 5000 prone to inaccuracy and unreliability. Consequently, there are many ways to challenge the prosecution’s breath evidence in your drunk driving case.
Studies have shown that the stability of the Intoxilyzer 5000’s power source and its proximity to other devices emitting radio waves may cast doubt on its accuracy. Additionally, the Intoxilyzer 5000 is also often incapable of differentiating between alcohol in a subject’s mouth, and blood alcohol. Despite attempts by the manufacturer to provide a device that can distinguish between the two, experiments have shown that the Intoxilyzer 5000 does not always make such a distinction. It is also well established that contaminants in a person’s mouth such as smokeless tobacco, denture adhesives, mints, and lip balm may also result in an erroneous breath alcohol reading.
A person’s physical condition, or exposure to certain substances, may also cast doubt onto the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000. For example, a person suffering from diabetes, esophagheal hernia, heartburn, liver disease, or other illnesses may get inaccurate results on the Intoxilyzer 5000. The same can be said of people with certain diets, or those on certain medications. Hyperventilation or sitting in certain positions may also cause sample error on a breath test. Further, the subject’s exposure to certain chemicals such as acetone may result in an inaccurate breath alcohol test result.
Aside from the Intoxilyzer 5000’s inherent problems, the GBI has promulgated regulations and a maintenance plan that favor inaccuracy and unreliability. Such problems are also targets for defense lawyers at trial. Despite the option to purchase machines programmed to automatically perform calibration checks after each test, the state decided to have the devices inspected four times a year. Test samples from such inspections are not preserved, so proper calibration at the time of the inspection cannot be verified. Although an Intoxilyzer 5000 has the capability of filtering out interfering substances such as toluene, acetaldehyde, and acetone, routine inspection only includes testing for acetone filtration.
The Intoxilyzer 5000 is capable of interfacing with computers, which could be used to maintain a complete record of tests performed by each device. Such information would be a invaluable in determining a device’s trend of error. However, the GBI has chosen to ignore such information rather than maintain a database that could establish innocence for hordes of Georgia drivers.
Law enforcement officers often lack proper training in the use of the Intoxilyzer 5000. Officers generally receive minimal training in the use of the device, and are not provided adequate written materials. Thus, inquiry into the officer’s knowledge on the Intoxilyzer 5000 may be helpful to your case.
Nobody in Georgia has the expertise to repair an Intoxilyzer 5000 device. Repairs must be performed by the manufacturer. Georgia law enforcement officers, including those "inspectors" who certify the proper operation of the machines, do not know how they work. This poses both an enhanced risk of wrong test results, and ammunition for your lawyer.
In summary, it is not unlikely that the Intoxilyzer 5000 produced an erroneous test result in your case. It is your lawyer’s responsibility to have that evidence suppressed, if proper grounds are present, or show the judge or jury that the device was not operating properly when the police conducted your breath test.