Ohio to turn over results of breath-alcohol tests

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The state Department of Health plans to provide defense attorneys with old test results from alcohol breath-test machines after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that defendants in drunken driving cases can challenge the accuracy of certain tests results, according to records obtained by a newspaper.

The department long argued it would be nearly impossible to turn over years’ worth of data from the Intoxilyzer 8000 machines, citing technical and financial hurdles. But records obtained by The Columbus Dispatch indicate the department has informed attorneys that it is creating software to enable that and expects to provide the information by Dec. 1.

Defense lawyers have suggested the information could help prove that the results are inaccurate and the machines are legally unreliable for drunken driving convictions – claims that the state regards as untrue.

The state spent $7 million to buy hundreds of the machines in 2009 for use by law enforcement agencies around the state, but some judges have decided not to allow test results from the machines as evidence over concerns that they weren’t proven scientifically reliable. Some law enforcement agencies in the Akron and Cincinnati areas stopped using the devices after the Supreme Court ruling said.

Ohio law bans challenges to the general reliability of state-approved testing instruments, but the high court ruled last month that defendants can challenge accuracy of specific breath-alcohol results and question whether specific machines operated properly at the time of a test.

The decision came in the case of man arrested in Cincinnati in 2011 and accused of having a blood-alcohol content of 0.143, well above the legal limit of 0.08. Attorneys for Daniel Ilg argued there was no evidence to support the Health Department’s claim that it didn’t have the staff or technology to provide a copy of the database of information from a specific machine, and that doing so could cost $100,000.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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