Is there anything else the State of Georgia does that may interfere with the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000?
You bet! When the Intoxilyzer 5000 is checked quarterly, the samples used to check the machines are not preserved and therefore proper calibration at the time of inspection cannot be verified.
The State of Georgia had the option to buy breath machines that would perform a full calibration before each breath sample, but declined to do so because these machines are more expensive. As a matter of fact, each Intoxilyzer 5000 has a huge hole in its containment unit where the calibration solution is supposed to be attached. The Intoxilyzer 5000 has the claimed ability to filter out toluene, acetaldehyde, and acetone. However, when the machines are inspected only the acetone filtration system is routinely checked.
Someone told me the Intoxilyzer 5000 runs a self-diagnostic check before each breath sample to ensure the machine is working properly. Is this true?
Before every breath sample is taken, the Intoxilyzer 5000 runs a self-check and displays “OK” if the machine doesn't detect any problems with itself. However, up to 34 different critical pieces of the Intoxilyzer 5000 can be removed from the machine, and the machine will still display an “OK” after the self-diagnostic check. In short, the self-diagnostic check is worthless.
Are the Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 9000 good breath testing machines?
When Georgia was preparing to update the state breath testing machine, several machines were researched and studied. In 1994, the Intoxilyzer 5000 beat out the Datamaster II to be the sole breath testing machine used in Georgia. Georgia officials still claim that the Intoxilyzer 5000 is the “Cadillac” of breath testing machines. However, this Cadillac is missing a windshield, 4 tires, and a front seat.
Just like any other government, the government in Georgia has a budget and likes to save money. In doing so, it left some very important options off of the “Cadillac” Intoxilyzer 5000. First, the Georgia Intoxilyzer 5000 can easily be fitted with an adapter that would capture and retain every subject's breath sample. These samples have a 98% accuracy rating for up to 2 years. However, Georgia and the GBI opted not to have this important option installed on the Georgia Intoxilyzer 5000. The second option Georgia did not have installed on its Intoxilyzer 5000 is a “flow rate” to measure the volume and flow of the subject's breath. This option is important to prove to officer's that the subject is blowing into the machine properly, and is not merely pretending to blow. Again, Georgia decided not to purchase this technology.
Worst of all, the Intoxilyzer 5000 is 100% computer friendly, and has a Z80 microprocessor chip and serial port on the back of the machine. This means a complete history of each test, each machine's defects, and each machine's aborted tests could be kept by the GBI simply by downloading the information via a modem, or through an onsite computer. The GBI has taken no steps to record these problems because such proof of failures, test errors, and trends of error would destroy the machine's credibility. In summary, Georgia's Cadillac is a lemon.
Recently, Georgia has decided to upgrade the Intoxilyzer 5000 to the Intoxilyzer 9000. Georgia again had a bidding process, and chose an inferior machine: the Intoxilzyer 9000.
Is the Officer who administers the test well trained on the Intoxilyzer 5000, or Intoxilyzer 9000?
No. The Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 9000 Operator's Course is a 16 hour, 2 day course. The entire first day is devoted to basic human biology, and the students don't touch the machines until the second day. Once certified, the “refresher” course to keep your certification is only 4 hours. In Florida, where the Intoxilyzer 5000 is also used, their operators are required to go through a 40 hour course.
Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 9000 Operators are not taught how the machine works. They have no knowledge of the inner workings of the machine, or how to repair it. This lack of knowledge is done purposefully by the GBI Department of Forensic Sciences. They do not want these operators to know the inner workings of the machine because they don't want DUI attorneys to able to cross examine these operators on the finer points of the Intoxilyzer 5000 or Intoxilyzer 9000. All the operator is taught to do is turn on the machine, set up the machine for a test, and then administer the test. Anything beyond these three simple acts the operator simply does not know.
Who in Georgia repairs the machines when they do not work?
No one in Georgia is certified to repair the Intoxilyzer 5000 or Intoxilyzer 9000 when it needs repair. Only the Intoxilyzer 5000 and Intoxilyzer 9000's manufacturer, CMI, may repair the machines. Even the officers who certify that the machine is functioning properly may not repair the machine. The men who certify that these machines work properly may not repair them because these operators don't know how the machines work.
Do you have more questions regarding the field breathalyzer tests, check out Part 2.