Opponents of a portable breath tester used on drunken driving suspects are buoyed by a judge’s ruling that the devices aren’t scientifically reliable and can’t be used as evidence in a southeast Ohio case.
The law director in Marietta is considering appealing the decision, The Marietta Times reported. The ruling has no major immediate effect on the use of about 400 of the devices by law enforcement around the state.
The state bought hundreds of the Intoxilyzer 8000 because tests supported its reliability, Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said.
Challengers argue the results produced by the breath testers can be skewed by factors including humidity and how long a person blows into the device.
Some judges have sided with the state, but a few have excluded the results from drunken-driving cases in their courts. One such ruling came last week from a judge hearing a set of consolidated cases in Marietta in which motorists challenged Intoxilyzer results.
Judge Teresa L. Liston, who was appointed to hear the cases in Marietta Municipal Court, ruled that the testers are “not scientifically reliable and the court, as a gatekeeper against unscientific evidence, must prohibit them from being introduced as evidence in this case,” The Columbus Dispatch reported.
A Columbus lawyer in the case, Tim Huey, has challenged the testers for years.