Manatee Judge Excludes DUI Breath Tests Results

In more than 100 Manatee County driving under the influence (“DUI”) cases the breath test results will not be allowed into evidence, Judge Doug Henderson announced on Tuesday in Bradenton, Florida.

The breath test results in those cases have been in limbo for more than three years because of issues with the Intoxilyzer 5000, which is the machine used in those Florida DUI cases to estimate the individuals blood alcohol content from two breath samples blown into the machine.

More than two years ago, Judge Henderson ruled that the breath test results were not admissible at trial because because the defendants did not have the opportunity to have DUI expert witnesses hired by the defense analyze whether the DUI breath test machines were functioning properly.

The DUI prosecutors with the State Attorney’s Office in Manatee County decided to appeal that decision. That appeal was recently decided by the circuit court in Manatee County and then by the Second District Court of Appeal which upheld Judge Henderson’s ruling.

The Intoxilyzer 5000 is manufactured by a Kentucky company named CMI Inc., which refused to comply with subpoenas that required the company to release the computer software or source code that would show how the machine operated.

Judge David Denkin in Sarasota also ordered CMI to release details about the source code, but the company refused citing protective “trade secret” rules. Although the courts in Manatee County and Sarasota County recognized the company’s right to refuse to release the “trade secret” information, the courts found that the defendant’s due process rights were violated requiring the breath test results be excluded.

The rulings will make it more difficult for private companies to sell breath test machines to the State of Florida while avoiding releasing information showing how the machines work.

Although the breath test results will be excluded, prosecutors can still go forward with trials in the DUI cases using other evidence such as testimony of the officers concerning driving pattern, admissions, and performance on field sobriety exercises.

But the prosecutor’s most persuasive piece of evidence, the breath test result, will be excluded in those cases. As a result, many of those charges will be dropped before trial. In other cases, the prosecutors will offer to reduce the charges to reckless driving to avoid a trial.

If you have been arrested for DUI in the Tampa Bay area and blew into the breath test machine, contact an experienced Florida DUI Attorney taking cases in Hillsborough County, Polk County, Pasco County, Pinellas County or Manatee County about fighting to get the breath test results excluded from evidence by the Court.

Call the Sammis Law Firm at 813-250-0500 or click here to visit our website for more information on hiring a DUI Attorney for Manatee County, FL.

%d bloggers like this: