The state of Ohio has decided to spend nearly $7 million in federal grant money for portable breath-testing devices that have been at the center of much controversy in several other states.
Brushing aside criticism of a rigged bidding process which excluded an in-state company and bias because of a friendship between a state official and the president of the company that makes the devices, the state’s legislators chose to purchase several Intoxilyzer 8000 devices.
Some defense lawyers are already predicting that many defendants will challenge the results of breath-tests from the Intoxilyzer, which has come under legal fire in Arizona and Florida.
The State Controlling Board came to a unanimous decision to purchase 700 of the devices from Kentucky-based CMI Inc., whose president, Toby Hall, is a friend of the Ohio Department of Health official who worked on the instrument’s specifications.
The specifications excluded Ohio-based National Patent Analytical Systems Inc., which manufactured the majority of breath testers used by Ohio law enforcement officers.
According to National Patent President John D. Fusco, state officials all but admitted that the bid specifications had been tailored to the Intoxilyzer 8000 to exclude competitors.
"Unfortunately for the state of Ohio, they are starting a program that has lost all semblance of credibility before they unpack the first instrument," Fusco said.
The devices are expected to debut in a pilot program in southwestern Ohio in January. They will replace stationary testing devices in police posts around the state.