The Accuracy of An Intoxilyzer Reading In A DUI Scenario

Interviewer: What are some of the technicalities behind breathalyzers?  Are they very accurate?

Matthew Nebeker: Coming from my perspective, no they’re not.  So, in Utah, it’s called the Intoxilyzer 8000 model.  And our law says that the arresting officer only has to have them blow into the machine one time and get one number and if that number is over the limit, then that’s good enough. Going into the machine a little bit, the manufacturer and all the books will say that it provides an estimate of the alcohol in the driver’s breath.  And because it’s just an estimate, therefore, it’s subject to an attack on many levels by the DUI defense attorney.

The Manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer Makes No Warranty Regarding the Accurate Measurement of Blood Alcohol Content

So, another thing that would be important to know about, to answer your question is, the manufacturer of the machine makes no warranty that the machine will correctly and accurately measure the alcohol in the driver’s breath. To me, that just seems crazy.  You can build a machine, sell it to the government and make no warranty that the machine is going to do anything correctly and accurately.   I thought that was interesting note or comment about the machine we’re using here in Utah.

The BAC Reading Portable Breath Tester is Not Reliable Enough to be Admissible in Court

Interviewer: And you’re talking about the Intoxilyzer, what about the portable ones?  How accurate are those?

Matthew Nebeker: As far as I know, there hasn’t been any studies done that I’m aware of where they’ve taken that portable breath tester and have a subject to blow into it and then go and like draw their blood and have it analyzed. As far as I’m concerned, they’re not accurate and that’s why the officer, when they note in their report, they’re not supposed to put a number; they’re just supposed to say positive or negative for alcohol.  So, if you have the law enforcement saying, “Don’t use a number, just a positive or negative”, then I don’t think they’re that accurate and that reliable.

Common Medical Conditions Affecting a Breath Test in a DUI Scenario

Interviewer: What are some of the more common medical conditions that someone should let you know about that can affect that and can help their case?

Matthew Nebeker: Yes.  That kind of goes into a little bit what we’re going to talk about when I initially meet with them but yes, I have a lot of people that when the officer asks them, and they’re supposed to ask them, “Well, do you have any conditions or symptoms that will affect them during the DUI investigation?” A lot of them will say, “Well, I’ve been sick.  I’ve been running a fever.  I’ve taken some cold medication”, things like that.  But yes, just general conditions, if there are any infections in their mouth; they’ve had any recent dental work, stuff like that.

Asthma and GERD are two Medical Conditions Which Can Affect the DUI Investigation

Interviewer: What about like asthma or something along the lines of aesophagal, any sort of aesophagal conditions?

Matthew Nebeker: Yes, there’s asthma and there’s GERD.  Yes, there’s a lot of different conditions that can affect the DUI investigation itself.  And that’s along with physical injuries like thumbs or knees or the back, yes, and stuff like that.

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