When a person is arrested for a DUI, there a two ways their blood alcohol content (BAC) can be measured, breath or blood analysis. Generally, whether their breath or blood is analyzed depends on the arresting agency. For example, most cities in Maricopa County use blood to analyze BAC and most Sheriff’s Office or Department of Public Safety use breath to determine BAC. Tempe, however, is one of the few cities in Maricopa County that still uses breath to analyze BAC.
What are the defenses to breath analysis?
There are several things that can wrong when analyzing a person BAC by using a breath test. The machine that is used throughout Arizona is the intoxilyzer 8000. This machine is calibrated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and is given to local law enforcement agencies to maintain and use during the course of their DUI investigations.
I have found that officers who are trained to operate the intoxilyzer do not have any knowledge about how this complicated machine actually works. The extent of their knowledge is that when they turn it on, if the machine’s self-calibration check appears to be working properly, then the machine must be fine. They have no idea how the machine calibrates itself or how the machine analyzes breath.
Not only do the operators have limited knowledge, I was in trial last week with an employee from DPS who is responsible for calibrating these machines and who considers herself to be an expert, yet admitted on the stand that she has never read the warranty or manual for an intoxilyzer. Bottom line, the operators have no idea what they are doing.
The manufacturer of this device does not warrant that it is an accurate tool at measuring human blood alcohol content. This machine is only accurate when it is used in a controlled environment and the operators are giving the machine a known amount of alcohol When the machine has a human who blows into it, it cannot accurately account for human variables and therefore, can’t provide a reliable result.
The takeaway from this article is that breathalyzers are nothing more than crude tools use to analyze blood alcohol. They are not as accurate as blood analysis machines and need to be scrutinized by your DUI defense attorney.