Drunk driving arrests are extremely common in Georgia. When people have been out socializing and see the flash of sirens in the rearview mirror, it is with great trepidation that they greet the law enforcement officer coming to the window. Increasing the fear is the use of technology such as the Intoxilyzer 5000, which relies on infrared spectroscopy to measure the amount of ethanol in the breath of the driving under the influence (DUI) suspect. Despite the seeming technological superiority of this equipment, there are many problems with it.
The premise of the Intoxilyzer 5000 is that it measures the absorption of infrared light by molecules in the mouth. Absorption occurs at different wavelengths for different chemicals that are present in the breath. This apparatus measures the light that is not absorbed after analyzing a breath sample, calculating blood alcohol content (BAC) based on the Lambert-Beer Law. This purportedly gives an accurate reading of a person’s BAC without needing to perform a chemical analysis of the blood or urine. However, there are many problems.
The Intoxilyzer 5000 is intended to measure the volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) in a person’s breath, in order to determine the BAC based on the presence of ethanol. One of the most common inaccuracies with this type of BAC calculation is that there are other molecules that absorb at wavelengths close to ethanol, including methane, acetone, and other components, thus skewing the reading. In fact, the manufacturer’s instructions concerning the Intoxilyzer 5000 indicate that the presence of specific levels of acetone in a person’s breath can cause the test to be invalidated.
In addition, individuals with diabetes may have a much greater concentration of VOCs in the breath sample, which may lead to a falsely high reading. Other individuals who could face a higher BAC reading than would occur based on the alcohol consumed are those who have been fasting or participating in certain popular diets. Many people who are on high-protein diets may have a higher BAC reading on the Intoxilyzer 5000.
Law enforcement agencies across the country assert that testing has affirmed the accuracy of the readings that are obtained through the use of this equipment. However, these tests are somewhat misleading because they typically are conducted on behalf of government bodies, which have a vested interest in finding that the test is reliable.
If a person has been stopped on the suspicion of driving under the influence and the law enforcement officer has used the Intoxilyzer 5000 to perform a chemical test on the individual’s breath, there are many ways to challenge the results. The officer who administered the test may not have received the right training. In addition, the equipment may not have been calibrated properly, leading to unreliable BAC readings. Finally, the Intoxilyzer 5000 itself may not be the proper way to measure BAC because of the likelihood that other VOCs in the breath may have altered the reading. This is a particularly relevant if the person being charged with DUI has a medical condition that may alter the results.
The Abt Law Firm, LLC. Aggressively Fights for its Clients
After being arrested on a DUI charge, many people are swayed by the rhetoric of the arresting officers or the prosecutor that there is little that can be done to contest the charges, but this is entirely untrue. There are many defenses in a Georgia DUI case and the skilled and experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC. have the knowledge and experience to present the most effective defense based on the facts of the DUI stop. If you do not want a criminal record, call us immediately at 1 (800) NO JAIL 9 or 1 (800) 665-2459 and we can help. We offer free consultations at our office, over the telephone, and are ready to come to you in jail.