Breath-testing machines have been used for O.V.I. (D.U.I.) in Ohio for decades. Until recently, the breath-testing instruments approved by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) were the BAC Datamaster and the Intoxilyzer 5000. In 2009, the Ohio Department of Health approved the use of the Intoxilyzer 8000. In addition, the ODH purchased 700 Intoxilyzer 8000s, at a cost of $6.4 million, to be used throughout the state.
The state’s purchase of the Intoxilyzer 8000s was controversial, as reported in the Columbus Dispatch and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the time of the purchase, the 8000 had already been the subject of legal challenges in other states, including Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. Some of those challenges continue. The state of Florida has ordered the manufacturer of the 8000, CMI, Inc., to pay monetary penalties for not divulging the source code for the machine’s software. The state of Tennessee considered the 8000 for use in that state and ultimately rejected the 8000. Despite these challenges, the 8000 was chosen over an Ohio-made Datamaster.
In addition to the legal challenges, the ODH decision to purchase Intoxilyzer 8000s was controversial due to the relationship between an ODH employee and CMI. Dean Ward, then head of the ODH Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Testing, wrote the specifications that led to adopting the 8000 and was a friend of CMI president Toby Hall. Now retired from ODH, Ward is rumored to be employed in some capacity by CMI.
Use of the Intoxilyzer 8000 has been implemented in a few counties throughout Ohio. In central Ohio O.V.I. (D.U.I.) cases, the 8000 is now being used in Marion County and Union County. I was recently retained for my first case involving an 8000 in Marion County. In a few weeks, I have a hearing on a motion to suppress the breath test in that case. Should be interesting…I’ll post the outcome.