Minnesota Judge Rules Intoxilyzer Results Invalid

North Carolina no longer uses the Intoxilyzer 5000. It uses the Intox EC/IR II. But a Minnesota judge recently ruled that the Intoxilyzer results are invalid, which puts into jeopardy some 4,000 cases.

The reason comes down the source code – the computer code that powers the machine. Since the manufacturer, CMI of Kentucky, has refused to release the code to defense attorneys so they can determine whether it is reliable, the judge has questioned the device’s capability:

brams’ ruling criticized the Intoxilyzer’s Kentucky-based manufacturer, CMI, for withholding its source code from the state, which sued in federal court for access to the data. The state won, making the data available to defense attorneys who demanded it to determine whether the machine gave accurate blood-alcohol level readings.

“A less defensive posture and access to the code would likely have increased confidence in results and would have reduced the need for this protracted litigation.” Abrams wrote in his ruling.

Although reliable, the Intoxilyzer appears to be “severely challenged” by its limited data processing capacity, Abrams wrote. It “appears to be at the edge of its usefulness” because source code changes create additional problems and its code should be written for slower computers, the judge said.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.