In Ohio, a lower court ruled that BAC results from the widely used Intoxilyzer 8000 breathalyzer are not admissible in court. Judge Teresa L. Liston rendered the decision in Municipal Court (Pennsylvania only has a Municipal Court in Philadelphia) on August 13. Liston was appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court for the specific purpose of hearing a number of consolidated Intoxilyzer 8000 cases.
During the five-day hearing, the Ohio Department of Health argued that the machines have demonstrated “proven performance, reliability and repeatability in extensive testing at the state and federal levels.” Through expert witnesses, the defense argued that the machine could produce skewed results because of heat, humidity and other factors.
In the end, Liston opined that results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 are “not scientifically reliable and the court, as a gatekeeper against unscientific evidence, must prohibit them from being introduced as evidence”. Ohio will almost certainly appeal the decision, leaving the fate of the case in the hands of their intermediate appellate court.
Note that Judge Liston’s decision is not binding on any other case or court in Ohio, nor is it binding in Pennsylvania or any other state. The rationale in the opinion can, however, be used as a persuasive argument and may pave the way for similar decisions to be rendered in Pennsylvania. With so many recent court decisions invalidating results from particular breathalyzers and questioning their reliability as a whole, one can only wonder for how long breathalyzers will continue to be used. In our opinion it would be in the best interest of all involved – defendants, prosecutors, citizens, and police to require blood tests to be used whenever and wherever they are available.