Intoxilyzer 8000 breath test questions: Collier Judge concerned about validity of device

Defense attorney trying to prove test unreliable

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla.-- In Palm Beach County, if you're arrested for driving under the influence, you're likely taken to the breath alcohol testing center, where you blow into the Intoxilyzer 8000.

Like several other attorneys throughout the state of Florida and the country, defense lawyer Brian Gabriel has been trying to prove the machine's results are unreliable and shouldn't be allowed in court.

"This machine is constantly needing modifications, it's not working properly, not properly calibrated and they've been hiding that evidence," Gabriel said Thursday.

Palm Beach County judges have not allowed Gabriel to schedule a hearing to present his case.  Gabriel says he must first go to Tallahassee in front of administrative court.

But Gabriel's legal quest just got a boost.

A judge in Collier County wrote an order last week expressing his concern over the validity of the instrument.   The court says 17 modifications have been made to the machine since 2002 and Gabriel says none of those were approved by the state.

By law, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is required to approve all changes to the breath test instrument.

On Thursday Gabriel brought that latest court order to five judges in Palm Beach County, hoping it will influence their opinion of the machine.

But not everyone believes the tests are problematic.

"I think the most recent attacks you hear about are simply to garner publicity," said Diego Asencio, an attorney who works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He says the Intoxilyzer 8000 works just fine.

"The instrument is highly reliable, it has so many safeguards and it is administered under a transparent program," said Asencio.
    
He says victims of DUI cases should be offended by this litigation. "I've seen their reaction, for example in Orange County we are absolutely astounded."

Judges in Orange County don't allow results from the breath test into court, something Gabriel hopes Palm Beach County judges will soon adopt.

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