In the state of Florida, getting a DUI is no small incident. If police have probable cause to issue a breath test, a DUI suspect is directed to breathe into a highly flawed piece of equipment. Florida uses the Intoxilyzer 8000 to record breath samples that are permitted as evidence in a court of law. Anyone who faces DUI charges in Palm Beach County and submitted to testing on this device runs the risk of having inaccurate results used against him.
The I-8000 uses infrared spectroscopy to measure a person’s breath alcohol concentration, or BrAC. The machine is supposed to record the level of alcohol present in deep lung air, which is thought to reflect a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In theory, the science behind the design of the I-8000 is sound; in practice however, the conflict of breath alcohol versus mouth alcohol, or the alcohol present in your mouth and throat, presents one of the machine’s greatest obstacles.
Mouth alcohol is frequently present in DUI breath samples and is the most common reason that the Intoxilyzer produces false high positive results. It can come from a variety of sources: mouthwash, chewing gum, acid reflux, and dental work to name a few. Every Intoxilyzer model has a special component to guard against mistaking mouth alcohol for the alcohol content found in deep lung air called a slope detector. Ironically, the slope detector can be confused by the presence of the very thing it is supposed to detect.
What is Slope?
During a breath test conducted on an Intoxilyzer 8000, a person blows into the machine which requires a minimum of 1.1 litres of breath. Due to the nature of human lungs, a suspect cannot submit a consistent and endless flow of breath.
The flow of breath at the start of a long exhale cannot be relied on for an accurate sample. This is where the concentration of mouth alcohol is most intense. As the breath wanes, the machine’s slope detector reads the presence of deep lung air. This difference in the BrAC from the beginning of the sample to the end is called slope. The assumption is that, after a long exhale, the BrAC of the breath sample obtained toward the end accurately reflects the alcohol concentration of deep lung air and the suspect’s true BAC. The purpose of the slope detector is simply to detect the difference between mouth alcohol and breath alcohol from deep within one’s lungs.
In many cases, when mouth alcohol is present, the slope detector does not function as intended. Many experiments have been conducted to show that a person with zero alcohol present in his blood who has rinsed his mouth with mouthwash or another solution containing alcohol can produce positive results rather than an invalid sample. Despite the 20-minute observation period, the Intoxilyzer’s slope function is highly error-prone.
If you have been arrested for DUI in West Palm Beach, you need a competent attorney who is thoroughly educated in the science behind Florida’s only approved machine for evidentiary use. Attorney Brian Gabriel has dedicated over a decade of his career to fighting the results of the Intoxilyzer 8000. Call The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel for a free consultation at 561-622-5575.