A series of documents recently released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) give insight into Georgia's switch from the old Intoxilyzer Model 5000 machine to the Intoxilyzer Model 9000 machine. According to the materials, the Intox 9000 model will be an approved breath testing device starting January 1, 2013, with all cities and counties having the machine by the end of 2015. This sweeping overhaul comes as the aging fleet of Intox 5000's are finally either dying out or being phased out. According to a paper released by the GBI in January of 2012, of the 503 old Intoxilyzer 5000 machines currently in service in Georgia, the average age of the machine is 9.5 years. (Imagine still using your laptop from 2002 or so) The report further states a 240% jump in the "out of service" incidents on machines between 9-10 years old. Clearly, a majority of the machines being used to prosecute and unfortunately convict drivers in Georgia today are greatly aged machines gasping for their final breaths of air.
Per the GBI's January 2012 report, " Although functional and scientifically reliable (sic), the Intoxilyzer 5000 does not possess all of the attributes necessary to meet evolving legal requests and quality assurance recommendations in the field of breath alcohol testing."After making admissions of this magnitude, the GBI must act in a hurry to come up with a testing system that is easier to defend. While the Intoxilyzer 9000 will surely be touted as the latest technology, it remains largely untested both in court and in the field. Per the GBI's study, there are no reported cases on the Intoxilyzer 9000. Furthermore, the 9000 is not currently in use in any other jurisdiction, leaving Georgia as the testing ground.
New Machine, New Problems
While the GBI's September 2012 report detailing the Intoxilyzer 9000's selection process is quite cumbersome at some 120 pages long, the issues that will surely be discussed in the near future include:
- 1. The Intoxilyzer 9000's last-place performance in the diagnostics category of evaluation, designed to ensure the machine contains the diagnostic checks necessary to produce "accurate and reliable testing". P.11
- 2. The Intoxilyzer 9000's relatively poor performance in the laboratory evaluation of the system's mouth alcohol detection. The 9000 received a score of less than half of the leading machine in this category. (Mouth alcohol is a known limitation of accurate and reliable breath testing, and a frequently attacked element of forensic breath testing in Georgia.) P.29
- 3. Cited problems with the Intoxilyzer 9000's sensitivity to compounds other than ethanol (confusing some other substance with alcohol), issues with the machines' durability, and lack of field data on the new model. These issues were cited in surveys sent to customers already using the tested machines, including the 9000 (or similar model). P. 65
- 4. The Swiss-made Evidenzer 240 model, which was the second of three machines evaluated, seemingly outperformed the Intoxilyzer 9000 in numerous critical categories of testing. Despite CMI's (Intox 5000 & 9000's manufacturer) continued resistance to provide Georgia courts with evidence on the workings and operation of their machines, Georgia continues an exclusive relationship with this company. Why?
- 5. While Georgia continues to use the Intoxilyzer 5000 and DUI prosecutions using evidence from the 5000 model will wind their way through our Georgia courts for years to come, countries including Mexico, Jamaica, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Slovenia all use the much newer technology in the Intoxilyzer 8000 for their breath testing programs. Why has Georgia lagged so far behind in the area of forensic breath testing? PP.72,73