Courts of Appeals throughout Ohio have recently been addressing challenges to one of the breathalyzer machines used by local authorities. Challenges to the Intoxilyzer 8000 have been a mixed bag, with some courts upholding the machine as reliable and other courts finding it to be unreliable evidence of intoxication.
Most recently, the City of Cincinnati brought an appeal to the First District (Hamilton County) Court of Appeals on this issue.
In State v. Muchmore, 2013-Ohio-5100, the defendant was pulled over for an improper lane change and was given a breath test with the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine at the Cincinnati police station. He blew a .137. He was charged with an OVI.
He challenged the results of that test in court, arguing that the test did not comply with the Ohio Department of Health (“ODH”) regulations regarding breath-alcohol testing and that the results for the test should be excluded from evidence. The defendant further argued that the City of Cincinnati had failed to comply with the 3-year record keeping requirement for the Intoxilyzer 8000 set forth in Ohio law.
In a prior Hamilton County Court of Appeals case, the court found that officers operating the Intoxilyzer 8000 had to have a permit or access card in order to operate the machine.
At the hearing, the City of Cincinnati’s witness testified that one week’s worth of ODH breath alcohol results data was missing from the required online database. There was a written log as well, but that log recorded only the final test results and did not include failed attempts or provide the sample test result.
The trial court held that the written log book did not meet the record keeping requirements under Ohio law. But the Court of Appeals disagreed. On appeal, the First District court found that the written log substantially satisfies ODH’s record keeping requirements.
Thus, the original grant of defendant’s motion to suppress was reversed.
The Intoxilyzer 8000 remains a hot issue in courts across Ohio. Given the conflicting court of appeals decisions, it will very likely end up before the Ohio Supreme Court in 2014.
Challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer machine is just one of the many potential defenses that can be raised in an OVI case. For example, if you have been charged with an OVI in Cincinnati, there still may be constitutional problems with the stop or with the field sobriety tests that could be raised. Speak with a Cincinnati DUI attorney right away if you are facing an OVI charge. The sooner you get sound legal advice, the better chance you have to find your way to a good outcome in your case.