Breathalyzer Source Code Must Be Disclosed
A Sarasota County court ruling could drastically impact the use of electronic breathalyzers as evidence in cases filed against suspected drunk drivers. The justices ruled that a defense expert must be given access to the source code used by the Intoxilyzer 5000 developed by CMI of Owensboro, Ky.
“Unless the defense can see how the breathalyzer works,” the decision reads, the device amounts to “nothing more than a ‘mystical machine’ used to establish an accused’s guilt.”
Florida courts have been at odds over the use of breathalyzers as evidence and the public’s and defense’s right to information about their inner workings. Some cases have been tossed out while other courts have ruled that such data is a trade secret and deserves to be guarded.
A 1988 case found that police had changed a device so much that its results could no longer be considered accurate or be admitted as evidence.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from CNet (11/03/05); McCullagh, Declan .