Kansas’ Breath Testing Machine: The Intoxilyzer 8000

Published: 9 October 2013

After you have been arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will request that you submit to a test of your blood, breath, or urine for the purpose of measuring your blood alcohol concentration. The officer has the discretion to choose which of these tests you must take, and he may have you take more than one. In most Kansas counties, the officer will offer a breath test. The only machine now accepted by the State of Kansas as “reliable” is the Intoxilyzer 8000.

The Intoxilyzer 8000’s infrared spectrometry technology detects and measures alcohol by measuring the absorption of infrared wavelengths. When infrared light passes through a chamber that contains alcohol, some of the light is absorbed by the alcohol. Alcohol concentration is measured by comparing the amount of light that passes through the chamber when the air in the chamber contains alcohol to the amount of light that passes through the chamber when the air in the chamber contains no alcohol.

The accuracy of this highly technical process has been questioned in several states. The State of Tennessee tested and scrutinized the Intoxilyzer 8000 carefully before ultimately determining that the Intoxilyzer 8000 did not yield satisfactory results. It is not approved for breath testing in that state. Florida found a number of flaws with the Intoxilyzer 8000, including its operational software. In addition, the Intoxilyzer 8000 is commonly known to be unreliable when there is a Blackberry or other radio interference device in the immediate vicinity of the testing device in use.

Most states, including Kansas, have very strict rules of discovery that enable defendants to receive and review all evidence that might support a verdict of “not guilty.” These discovery rules have been ignored and undermined by the makers of the Intoxilyzer 8000, as they have repeatedly refused to allow defense attorneys to receive and review the operational software and “source codes” for the Intoxilyzer 8000. Because of this, many states have refused to acknowledge the Intoxilyzer 8000 as reliable or accurate.

In Kansas, however, the Intoxilyzer 8000 is the only breath testing machine authorized for use by law enforcement officers as they investigate people suspected of driving under the influence. The Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles denies that the flaws recognized by other states exist or affect the Intoxilyzer 8000 machines used in this state.

By Chris Joseph

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