Last Friday, Athens County Municipal Court Judge William Grim issued a ruling in an OVI case that would allow defense attorneys to challenge results of the Intoxilyzer 8000, the alcohol breath-testing machine predominantly used by law enforcement throughout Ohio. The decision may be the beginning of the end for the 1984 Ohio Supreme Court decision State v. Vega, 12 Ohio St.3d 185, 465 N.E.2d 1303 (1984), ruling that once breath analysis equipment is certified by the Ohio Department of Health, its results are automatically admissible in court.
Judge Grim held that, although the machines meet the minimum standard for reliability, results could be challenged in certain cases via expert testimony. In support of his ruling, Judge Grim cited concerns that the Intoxilyzer 8000 may be vulnerable to interference from smart phones and other devices, and blood-alcohol numbers could be driven-up by having a suspect blow into the machine for a longer time.
Judge Grim's decision closely follows that of Circleville Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm's ruling last month that he will not admit Intoxilyzer 8000 results into evidence unless the State can present proof that the machines are reliable.
While both Judge Grim and Dumm's rulings are only binding upon cases in those counties, opponents of Intoxilyzer 8000 are optimistic that the decisions will provide an opportunity to petition the Ohio Supreme Court for a ruling that would ban its use statewide.