Judge in Manatee County Throws Out Breath Tests Affecting DUI Cases

After waiting years for a final ruling, it appears that over 100 people in Manatee County may have finally received the court order that they were waiting for. According to a recent article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune by Reporter Todd Ruger DUI Cases Imperiled by Battle Over Test, Manatee County Judge Doug Henderson has ruled that the results of breath tests performed on the intoxilyzer 5000 are inadmissible.

The 5000 is no longer used in Florida but instead was replaced by the intoxilyzer 8000, which has had its share fair of problems. The manufacturer of both intoxilyzers, CMI of Kentucky, has refused to provide the source code for the machine despite being ordered to do so. Judges in Sarasota and Manatee Counties have sanctioned CMI for not complying with the previous court order. To date, the company is over 2 million dollars in default and that amount is growing daily.

The mysterious mythical machine apparently determines the breath alcohol level of an arrested subject, but the source code would reveal if the machine is truly accurate. Manatee County DUI supervising state attorney Erica Arend acknolwedges in the article that the state would be very prejudiced if it could not admit the breath test results. Under Florida law, the State must prove that the person was driving without a breath test above a .08 or while their normal faculties were impaired. In many instances the driver may perform well on field sobriety tests but have a high breath test result. As a result of Judge Henderson’s ruling, the State will be forced to review over 100 cases to determine if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person is impaired.

Typically, if the State can’t prove those necessary elements, then they will be forced to reduce the charges to reckless driving or drop the case entirely. Some law firms that have represented hundreds of DUI clients, like Finebloom and Haenel in Sarasota, have already had cases reduced because the State didn’t feel they would succeed after a jury trial.