Courts in Ohio could become clogged with people challenging charges of driving under the influence if the state moves forward with its plan to purchase approximately 700 portable breath-alcohol testers, a group of judges recently warned.

The Association of Municipal/County Judges of Ohio, whose members hear nearly 99 percent of the state’s DUI cases, noted that Ohio's choice of a breath-alcohol tester, the Intoxilyzer 8000, has drawn legal challenges in several other states.

According to Sarah Morrison, an attorney for the judges’ association, said at an Ohio Department of Health hearing on whether or not the breath tester should be approved that equipping the state’s police with the $9,000 would “likely lead to challenges by defendants” and could result in gridlock in the state’s county and municipal courts.

Recently, the state Controlling Board approved the purchase of 700 of the instruments for police in the state. The Intoxilyzer 8000 can be transported in police cars to use in the field. Currently, police transport suspects to stations to blow into a stationary tester.

Police say the device would reduce time necessary for transporting suspects and allow them to pick up more drunken drivers.

Police in 15 states currently use the Intoxilyzer 8000. Kentucky-based CMI Inc., the device’s manufacturer, has battled legal challenges in several states such as Florida, where the company has been fined more than $2 million for refusal to divulge the source code. Minnesota has also filed suit over the source code.

Bob Battle
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