A judge in Sarasota County, Florida has tossed out the alcohol breath-test results of seven DUI defendants because the equipment was not inspected by law enforcement after being repaired.
The ruling could also lead to 100 other breath test results from DUI defendants in the county being invalidated due to the authorities not inspecting the equipment for six months after it was repaired in March.
Because of the errors, prosecutors will be unable to tell juries about the defendants’ blood-alcohol content, which is considered to be the most powerful piece of evidence against drunken drivers.
If a driver’s blood-alcohol content is more than 0.08 percent, he or she is considered to be impaired. Drivers blow into a tube and their breath is analyzed by the Intoxilyzer 8000 in order to determine BAC.
In this case, the seven defendants’ BACs were measured as high as 0.23, which is nearly three times the legal limit of intoxication.
However, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement rules, a repaired Intoxilyzer is required to undergo inspection before being used to collect evidence against a driver.
The machine in question, number 1346, had a problem with the dry gas regulator, which is necessary for the control tests before and after the driver’s breath test. If a machine has no functioning dry gas regulator, it will not work. The dry gas regulator on this machine was replaced by FDLE, but an inspection was not conducted.
Sarasota County Judge Phyllis Galen ruled that, due to the lack of inspection, the breath tests were in violation of Florida’s implied consent law, which requires that licensed drivers consent to a breath test if stopped under suspicion of DUI.
However, BAC is not the only evidence against drunken drivers, so the ruling does not mean that the charges will automatically be dropped.