Facing painful accusations of drunk driving, Dale Lee
Underdahl of Minnesota challenged the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN
breathalyzer used against him, and demanded to see the source code used in the
The claim launched debates and a lawsuit that escalated all
the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The device’s manufacturer, CMI, Inc. of
Kentucky,claimed the source code was proprietary, copyrighted and refused
to comply. To that end, CMI attempted to
block the source code’s release by filing a writ of prohibition, which was
denied by the Minnesota Supreme Court, who said the writ is “an extraordinary
remedy and is only used in extraordinary cases.”
The State of Minnesota specifically commissioned the Intoxilyzer 5000EN model and “all right, title, and interest in all copyrightable material” created “will be the property of the state,” according to the state’s original bid proposal. Furthermore, the proposal also said CMI must provide
the necessary information to “attorneys representing individuals charged with
crimes in which a test with the proposed instrument is part of the evidence,”
to CNet, “seems to include source
On July 26, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in Underdahl’s favor,
assuring the discoverability of the devices source code and affirming his right
to its examination. “The problem is, the manufacturer of the thing thinks they
can hold it back and not tell anybody how it works. For all we know, it's a
random number generator,” said Underdahl’s attorney, Jeffrey Sheridan.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has expressed
reluctance to forcibly acquire the source code, and according to a department spokesman,
is still considering its response. The department thinks a lawsuit is
unnecessary as the contract stipulates CMI’s cooperation with court orders.
The “source code defense” has been used in a number of other
states with mixed success. Manufacturers, in the interest of guarding their
trade secrets, have rigorously fought against court-ordered scrutiny. In one instance,
judges in Florida’s Seminole County threw
out hundreds of cases involving breath tests because the manufacturer would
not disclose their breathalyzer's source code. However, in another instance a
group of more than 150 suspects, in Florida’s Sarasota County, were
granted access to the machines’ source code, with the judges citing it
was “material to their theory of defense in [their] cases.”
quote: Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
quote: "Better" depends on your value system
quote: For example, to a pacifist, a country with no military or history of any military agression might be considered
quote: Genocide of the America Indian
quote: Legalize slavery 70 years after the rest of the world.
quote: Interment camps in WW2
quote: Wasn't it amended in the Patriot Act? LOL.
quote: Also this guy's lawyer is a beast.
quote: Body Temperature: The widely used blood-to-air partition ratio of 2100 is based on a normal body temperature of 98.6°F. A higher body temperature of the individual will overestimate the actual BAC because of the higher volatility (or vapor pressure) of liquids like alcohol at a higher temperature. An elevation in body temperature of 1°C (1.8°F) results in a 7% higher value in the result since the air in the lungs will contain an artificially higher amount of evaporated alcohol. Therefore, a person with a body temperature of 100.4°F, and with an actual blood alcohol of 0.0935%, will register a value of 0.10% by the breath test. Be careful if you have a cold or the flu.
quote: Cellular Composition Of Blood: Blood contains suspended cells (e.g. red and white cells) and proteins, and is therefore only a partial liquid. The partition ratio of 2100 is based on an average cell volume 47%. Some of this cell volume is tissue, and at 47% cell volume, 81.5% of the blood volume is liquid in which the alcohol is actually dissolved. A person with a lower cell volume will have a falsely elevated blood alcohol level based on a breath test since the amount of alcohol in 2100ml of lung breath will be dissolved in a slightly higher amount of liquid, and hence have a lower concentration. Cell volume values range from 42% to 52% in males, and 37% to 47% in females. This variability will only have a small impact on BAC (ranging from -2% to +5%) so don't rely on it in court.
quote: The ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol is 2100 to 1 (and called the partition ratio), so the alcohol content of 2100 milliliters of exhaled air will be the same as for 1 milliliter of blood. The maths are simple from there and leads to blood alcohol readings expressed as a percentage of alcohol in the blood.The partition ratio can vary between 1700 and 2400 depending upon the individual and local environmental conditions, leading to a breath analysis reporting either a higher or lower calculated blood alchol reading.
quote: I don't know if "innocent until proven guilty" applies to traffic citations. When you get a traffic violation you are pretty much guilty as soon as you receive the ticket. You can fight the charge to exonorate yourself, but you are more trying to prove yourself innocent from an already guilty standpoint.
quote: Either the technology works, or it doesnt, it really is not that hard.
quote: From the article it sounds as if it's CPI that's wasting everyone's time and money by not accepting the fact that the source code was owned by the state as laid out in the terms of commissioning the device.
quote: And the time it would take, would be quite expensive.
quote: The source code has little to no bearing on the accuracy of the device.
quote: Increases blood flow to the skin - This causes a person to sweat and look flushed. The sweating causes body heat to be lost, and the person's body temperature may actually fall below normal.
quote: Does anyone know what kind of test they have a test for marijuana?
quote: The same holds true for submitting to an alcohol chemical breath test. The breath test machines used at the police stations are of unknown unreliability and the tests are administered in a very unscientific manner. Consequently, they often yield bogus results. Always offer and agree to submit to a neutral hospital blood test to determine the amount of alcohol in your body! And write down this offer everywhere and on every document you are required to sign your name to at the police station (on your ticket, on the implied consent form, bail ticket, etc.). Make sure this request appears on all copies of the documents that you sign. Be aware that if you decline to submit to the particular type of alcohol test requested by the police officer – whether it is a blood, urine or a breath test, your driver's license will likely be suspended for a period of time.
quote: So what happens when a guy takes a swig and drives and is no way under the influence? As if this thing is really accurate enough not to pick up the alcohol residing in his mouth and mix it with the air from his lungs.