We recently covered the Ohio Supreme Court case that resulted in a demand that the state Department of Health begin turning over past test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 machines used by law enforcement agencies across the state. At the time, the Department claimed that it would be financially, technologically and practically impossible to gather and produce such records. However, in only a few weeks the Department acknowledged that it has found a way to gather the records and will begin responding to requests from defense attorneys by December 1st.
Two drunk driving defense attorneys who were attempting to challenge the reliability of the Intoxilyzer machine brought the case at issue. The Intoxilyzer has a long history of suspicion in some circles, with many critics arguing the sensitive machines can be difficult to calibrate and produce varying and inaccurate results.
The lawyers challenging the drunk driving charges faced by their clients demanded to see old test results from the particular machines used to test their clients. They were looking for data to support the alleged accuracy of the Intoxilyzer machines, a trove of information that the Department of Health had never before released.
The government argued that because the records had never been properly stored it would be essentially impossible to produce previous test results and calibration readings for individual machines. To the surprise of many, the department has announced it should be ready to produce such records in only a few weeks, apparently far easier a task than they initially told the courts it would be.
According to the Department of Heath, it now expects to be able to turn over test data to defense attorneys by December 1st and says that it is currently introducing new software into the department to facilitate the disclosure of information. The hope among many in the criminal defense world is that the information turned over by the state, the information the department was so reluctant to hand over, will reveal that the Intoxilyzer is unreliable when it comes to DUI testing, something that could impact potentially thousands of drunk driving cases across the state.
Already, police departments in several of the largest metro areas have moved away from the machines. Law enforcement in Cincinnati and Akron stopped sing the Intoxilyzer 8000 while Columbus police never used the device in the first place. Whether the results lead to cases being dropped remains to be seen, but the recent Supreme Court decision definitely opens up a new avenue for attack for those interested in fighting back against their drunk driving charges.
Source: “Ohio to give attorneys past data on DUI breath-testers,” by Randy Ludlow, published at Dispatch.com.