Friday, August 19, 2011
From the New York Times. Here's an excerpt from the Q/A with the lawyer:
Q Please describe what is at issue with this device.
A The machine is called the Intoxilyzer 5000EN. It is manufactured by a Kentucky company that sold the machines to Minnesota law enforcement. It uses infrared technology to measure particulate matter, and then uses a mathematical formula to convert it to what the blood-alcohol level would be.
. . .
Q How long do you believe there has been a problem with the Intoxilyzer, and what made people start looking into it?
A The suspicion is that this probably started a long time ago. The more air you blow into the machine, the higher the alcohol rate it registers. You have officers saying, “Blow harder. Blow harder,” as people are blowing into these machines. I’ve seen it happen time and again. In some cases, if you didn’t blow enough air into a machine you get what is called a “deficient sample,” which is qualified as a refusal. A refusal takes a harsher punishment in Minnesota.” [Note: The state and the manufacturer dispute that blowing harder is linked to higher readings.] I’ve handled over 1,000 D.W.I.’s in the last seven years and always look at the breath volume and compare the two samples [tests consist of two breaths into the Intoxilyzer]. I’ve seen this. I don’t know whether it could be tested or if it’s been tested. It’s kind of anecdotal.