Florida’s Intoxilyzer 8000: Why FDLE Departmental Inspector, Maggie Geddings, Used Cell Phones to Manipulate the Inspection Reports

How Cell Phone Interference Manipulates Intoxilyzer 8000 Inspections

Just when you think it could not get worse for Laura Barfield, Florida’s Alcohol Testing Program and FDLE’s Departmental Inspectors, you come across a transcript from a courageous prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office in Okaloosa County, Florida.

At least one employee of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has used a cell phone to manipulate the Intoxilyzer 8000 during the department inspections. The department inspections are used by FDLE as evidence that the machines are working properly.

Assistant State Attorney Adrienne Emerson along with Investigator Renee Pelotte from the State Attorney’s Office took this sworn statement from Margaret “Maggie” Geddings, former FDLE Departmental Inspector. This sworn statement is now being provided as exculpatory Brady material to criminal defense attorneys in Okaloosa County. It is really amazing that a prosecutor would insist on getting a sworn statement from a FDLE  Departmental Inspector to document exactly how the inspections are being falsified.

Click here to read the sworn statement here:

Geddings Sworn Interview on Cell Phone RFI and the Intoxilyzer 8000

But getting that sworn statement and sending it out to the criminal defense attorneys was necessary under the extraordinary facts. It is nice to know that the State Attorney’s Office in Okaloosa County did the right thing with this information. Under some pretty intense questioning from the prosecutor, Margaret Geddings was forced to admit the following:

  1. Maggie Geddings would intentionally put a ringing cell phone up against an Intoxilyzer 8000 during an inspection for the purpose of manipulating the results of the inspection;
  2. Manipulating the inspections by using a cell phone may have been done in front of numerous inspectors in various law enforcement agencies throughout North Florida;
  3. Understanding how to manipulate inspections with a cell phone was common knowledge among agency and departmental inspectors;
  4. On at least one occasion, Maggie Geddings actually used the agency inspector’s cell phone to manipulate an annual inspection in front of the agency inspector as they laughed about it;
  5. Maggie Geddings failed to properly document that the RFI flag was caused intentionally to prematurely end an inspection that was showing that the Intoxilyzer 8000 was not properly calibrated because it was showing the samples were “out of tolerance;” and
  6. Maggie Geddings could not remember what counties or at which law enforcement agencies she had done this intentional procedure of using a cell phone to manipulate the Intoxilyzer 8000 departmental inspection.

FDLE might argue that it’s not against the rules to use a cell phone to manipulate the inspections. FDLE might argue that no criminal investigation is necessary because Maggie Geddings was being lazy, but her practice of using a cell phone to manipulate the inspections did not necessarily affect the accuracy and reliability of any instrument.

The flaw with that argument is that, even if we believe Ms. Geddings, she admits she was intentionally causing the inspection to terminate once she realized that it was failing an inspection. Had she allowed the inspection to continue, a record would be left behind to show just HOW the instrument failed. It may have continued to fail for additional reasons had the inspection been allowed to continue.

Dirty Little Secrets Exposed

But what if something else is going on entirely? What if using the cell phone next to the Intoxilyzer 8000 during an inspection is a way to manipulate the readings? For instance, if the 08 reading is running out of tolerance because the reading is too low, can an inspector put their cell phone up to the Intoxilyzer 8000, but not close enough to trigger the RFI flag, and thereby cause the 08 reading to be within tolerance?

That theory certainly makes sense given the unusually high number of RFI reading certain agency inspectors have each year. In other words, are inspectors and breath test technicians using cell phones or other forms of radio interference to manufacture certain types of breath test readings? If so, you would expect a higher number of RFI flags when their technique inadvertently causes the threshold RFI flag to go off. But when it does, the inspector or breath test technician just blames “cell phone too close” which is technically true.

In order to answer that question we would need to know the mathematics and computer science algorithm used to trigger the RFI flag. Independent testing would also be necessary to see if using a cell phone can manipulate the breath test reading without triggering the RFI flag. Without looking at the source code for the Intoxilyzer 8000 we are stuck with relying on Maggie Geddings to explain why she was whipping out a cell phone during agency inspections in order to manipulate the Intoxilyzer 8000 inspections.

Personally, I do not believe that her story really make sense. In fact, even the prosecutor points out that she has no good explanation for why she didn’t just hit the abort button if she wanted to terminate the inspection without having to wait for the machine to cycle through the rest of the inspection. When the prosecutor asked, “You mentioned that … you don’t condone that practice, and you don’t approve that practice, why is that?” Maggie Geddings responded, “Well, I don’t want [the agency inspectors] stopping [the inspection by using their cell phone]. At least I know why I was doing it.” (Page 5). To me, that implies their are other reasons for using a cell phone during an inspection.

No matter your theory on the reason why this happened – one thing is clear. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has inspectors that are doing inspections improperly to mislead everyone including judges, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. Even worse, the FDLE employees appear to be teaching the inspectors at each law enforcement agency how to unplug the machines and use cell phones to hide the real reasons why the machine is failing. Those facts cannot be contradicted by FDLE because their employees have been caught red handed. So how can we trust anything about the program that operates under complete secrecy?

Maggie Geddings Told the Prosecutor About Using a Cell Phone to Manipulate Inspections on the Intoxilyzer 8000

During a conversation about Tom Workman’s study, the prosecutor, Adrienne Emerson asking Maggie Geddings about “pulling the plug” incidents. Those pull plug incidents basically involved a FDLE Departmental Inspector getting caught unplugging the machines during inspections to erase any evidence of a failed inspection. Pulling the plug literally dumped all data so that DUI defense attorneys, judges and prosecutors have no way of knowing that the machine failed an inspection.

During that conversation, Maggie Geddings discussed another way to manipulate the inspection by putting a cell phone up against the machine to create radio interference or the RFI flag. “You can just whip out a cell phone and stop the inspection that way, and that way there’s a record.” (Page 1 of the attached transcript).

Not only was Maggie Geddings aware of this way to manipulate the inspections on the Intoxilyzer 8000, she also told the prosecutor: “…I had mentioned, as a matter of fact, even I’ve done that a couple of times. And I may have done that in front of an agency inspector. What – I never condoned it, they might have noticed it.” (Page 1).

How many times did this happen?

The prosecutor asked “Okay, and yesterday when we were speaking you told me that, um, you had done this at least a dozen times. Do you remember saying that…?” Ms. Geddings at first said “I didn’t do it a dozen times. That was an exaggeration [but] I do remember saying that. I was being sarcastic…” Latter, Ms. Geddings offered “-but it wasn’t twelve, it might have been two or three.” (See page 1).

Also, consider this exchange between the prosecutor and the former FDLE Departmental Inspector:

“Q: You started off telling me I at least did this twelve times.

A: – correct –

Q: You walked in here today, and hang on, you walked in here today, and you said, I can only think of two times I did that –

A: – correct –

Q:  – and now, you just said, possibly six times I’ve done that.

A: Six being [the times I’ve done it on] the evidentiary, if I had to go back and check. For example, this is not something that I saw a problem with.”

What would Maggie Geddings do with the cell phone?

“…for example, if I was on a 08 solution, if the first 08 were to show out of tolerance, and then there was an RFI, then I might have to admit that was me hitting the RFI so that I could end the inspection, while still having a record, rather than having to wait for the other 20 or 30 … measurements that I’d [otherwise] have to do…. (Page 1).

Later she explained, “Oh, well, physically, you’re waiting while the measurements are coming up and if the measurements are not within tolerance, you get a second opportunity. Before that second opportunity comes up, you adjust your simulator, you do whatever it is you do with the solution or [o-rings], or what have you, and then you start the second test. Well, once it starts, if I get out of tolerance again, then that means it’s failed the inspection. At that point, at that instant, it failed the inspection, period, end of sentence, no matter what I do. So instead of sitting around for another 30 minutes to an hour, I would actually take out my cell phone and dial a number, and just call, and that would trigger an RFI, and what an RFI does, is it takes it out of the inspection mode, goes to the very end and says, you’re done… so I don’t have to wait for the whole rest of the thing.” (Page 2).

The former FDLE Departmental Inspector, Maggie Geddings, later explained, “[i]f it already failed one, and I knew it was going to fail the next one, or it started to fail the next one, that was when – it might as well, – it’s failed at that point. The only time I ever did an intentional RFI is when it had already failed, as in twice, so no matter what i did from then on forward, it would still be a non-compliant inspection. It just simply ends the inspection process early, rather than do all the rests of the tests that are completely irrelevant, because it already failed.” (Page 7).

How did Maggie Geddings Learn How to Use Her Cell Phone to Manipulate the Inspection?

“I don’t think- I don’t really learn it – like I said, it happened so frequently, that I might have caught on, when we already had a failure, like waiting for the other then, if a cell phone went off, and I went, Thank God, now we don’t have to wait for the rest of the test – is what I’m thinking. My trainer, I don’t believe, ever did it in front of me, nor do I condone it or anything to anybody, so I don’t know – I don’t know where I got that idea from.” (page 2).

Did Maggie Geddings Teach Inspectors at Various Law Enforcement Agencies How to Manipulate Inspections with a Cell Phone?

The prosecutor asked, “And yesterday, you explained to me that there may have been a couple of instances, I think you said two or three incidents where you actually did an intentional RFI in front of, um, agency inspectors.”

Maggie Geddings answered, “Maybe – I’m thinking maybe. I’d say 80% of my inspections are not done in front of inspectors.” In fact, Maggie Geddings explained, “…I would turn to the agency inspector, I remember doing that at least once, and say, they, let me borrow your radio and they hand me the radio while they were doing their little paperwork, I don’t think he was even watching the first time, and I’d take the radio, and the radios always give off the RFIs, so I just to the RFI and I hand it back to [the agency inspector], whether or not [the agency inspectors] noticed what I’d doing or why. I’ve never – I’ve never explained it to them, that’s for sure.” (Page 3).

Did she need to expressly explain how to cause an intentional RFI to the inspector with the law enforcement agency when she did the following:

  1. asked for the agency inspector’s radio,
  2. put it up to the instrument,
  3. caused the instrument to make noises indicating that it failed due to RFI,
  4. then handed the radio back to the inspector with the law enforcement agency, and
  5. laughed with the agency inspector at the fact that she had to start over.

Later, Ms. Geddings explained how agency inspectors were present when she manipulated the Intoxilyzer 8000 instruments and sometimes she actually used the agency inspector’s cell phone to manipulate the results of the inspection in front of the agency inspector. She explained that if the agency inspector was present during the inspection, “I would say, oh my 08s. I’ve got to redo my 08’s. Sorry, I’ve got to do this over again… and I’m going to redo it….” (Page 11).

When asked which agency inspectors she notified, she replied, “I don’t know, that’s what I mean, whoever was sitting in the chair behind me at that desk, I don’t remember who it was – I’ve done so many of them… [Y]eah, the agency inspector, for example, that I took the radio from. He hears the tone, and he says, oh, you gotta start over again, and I handed [the phone] back, and say, yeah, my 08’s weren’t – weren’t in compliance….” (Page 12).

When asked about an incident when she used the agency inspector’s radio, she explained, “I asked for his radio first, and then when he heard the two-tone, do do do do, and I handed it back, he kind – we were both laughing, because he knows what that means, that means I’ve screwed up and have to start over again. And, so when I handed it back, I said I have to do my 08’s over again, that way I’m explaining to him that it’s not the instrument, I’m just repeating it because my 08’s were off…. I was laughing because we have to do it all – when you hear that do do do do do do do, it might was well be saying idiot, idiot, idiot, because you know you made a mistake and have to start over.” (Page 13).

What Happens When FDLE Inspectors Hold a Cell Phone Up to the Intoxilyzer 8000 During the Inspection?

“Well, it should detect a signal, any kind of RFI interference, should be picked up by, as an RFI detector right behind the, um, the display, and it’s supposed to immediately stop the inspection, wherever it is and [annotate] RFI detect.” (Page 4). When the prosecutor asked if the Intoxilyzer 8000 makes a noise when you hold up an cell phone to it, then Maggie Geddings responded with the following explanation: “Yes, the usual two tone, high low, two tone, do dee do dee do dee… Not really [a high alarm], it’s the same tone that it gives when there’s any other kind of incident.” (Page 4).

Why Would Maggie Geddings Use a Cell Phone to Manipulate the Results of a Departmental Inspection?

“…Um, I could have, I could have sat there through the rest of those ten. What I would do, if those, ugh, numbers were not back up to where I needed them to be, I would let it, run, and that way I would not have to worry about whether or not the next inspection’s going to pass, but once I’m for sure what the problem was, and I’m just waiting for the rest of those to go, it’s jut a way to save time.” (Page 6). When asked what would prompt a FDLE Departmental Inspector to cause an intentional RFI flag during an inspection of the Intoxilyzer 8000, Maggie Geddings offered this explanation: “Impatient, and I wanted to get – some of these are done at jails, that are very busy, with lots of people around, you know, get in and get out as fast as possible, without being interrupted.” (page 6).

Wouldn’t Manipulating the Intoxilyzer 8000 Inspection with a Cell Phone Cover Up the Fact that the Instrument was not Accurate and Reliable?

“Ugh, well, I’m trying to think if there was ever a time the instrument had a problem – not really, um. I don’t remember saying – I know I said usually, but I really didn’t mean that. 99.9% of the time it was me. I can’t even think of a time it was ever the instrument malfunctioning, you know what I mean? In other words, of all the times I could have intentionally stopped an RFI, when I … repeated the inspection, it always passed. Always. Always. Always (laughing). Cause I knew what was wrong. Again, if I didn’t know what was wrong, I would have never intentionally stopped it, because I would still be trouble-shooting at that point.” (Page 7).

When Maggie Geddings Used a Cell Phone to Manipulate an Inspection – What Does Her Report Say?

“I remember typing in, for example, the one that I asked for the radio, I typed in ‘radio too close,’ or ‘cell phone too close,’ which meant my cell phone or my radio was too close… that’s the truth – my phone was too close.” (Page 8). When asked how anyone could go back to look at the records and determine which of Ms. Geddings inspections were manipulated with a cell phone, she explained: “It would be a failed inspection, it would be on the second trial, if it was going to fail or already started to show that it was intolerance, and the RFI was after that, that would be intentional… I would not sabotage one that’s perfect.” (Page 9).

Does Maggie Geddings Admit Wrongdoing, Illegal or Criminal Conduct?

The prosecutor asked, “You mentioned that … you don’t condone that practice, and you don’ approve that practice, why is that?” Maggie Geddings responded, “Well, I don’t want them stopping. At least I know why I was doing it. And my inspections are an hour and a half to two hours long. You asked me if I’d ever done it during an agency inspection. My immediate answer was no, because those are only 25 to 30 minutes long, if that. There’s no need to do them during a, during an agency inspection.” (Page 5).

Several times during the sworn statement, Ms. Geddings insist that her conduct was “not illegal.” At one point, the prosecutor asks, “Well, let me ask you this – if it’s a practice that you don’t condone, how is [it] that you think it’s – it’s legal?” (Page 13). Maggie Geddings answered, “It’s legal as in what I did was not against any specific regulation. There’s nothing that says your phone goes off, accidentally, slash purposely, whatever the reason. Long as it’s documented. Our, our stress in our training was we always want to have it documented what you do, from the minute you log in, to the minute you log out. So, to me, within the realm is, if a cell phone goes off accidentally, that’s one thing, if it goes off on purpose, it’s still the same result, I still have my documentation.” (Page 14).

See also – The May 8, 2008 Inspection on Intoxilyzer 8000, Serial Number 80-001303 conducted in Santa Rosa County at 11:26 a.m. (Referenced on page 8 and 10 of the transcript. The reports are also attached below). Also notice that the Agency Inspector had two more RFI flags in September and December of the same year. Could using a cell phone be a method of helping the machine test within tolerance? The RFI’s may just by a symptom of the technique not working properly.

Does Cell Phone Interference Cause Higher Breath Test Readings?

Watch this video below that shows that interference from a cell phone can be used to make an alcohol sample register a sample of .089 on the Intoxilyzer 5000. My former boss, William C. Head, with Head, Thomas, Webb and Willis, filmed this video “Intoxilyzer 5000 Giving False Positive Reading from Cell Phone Interference – NOT ALCOHOL.” The video is posted on his YouTube Channel. I have been unable to find videos of cell phones causing the same types of readings on the Intoxilyzer 8000. If anyone has done such an experiment, I would love to see the results.

One Comment

  1. Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:55 | Permalink | Reply

    This is another embarrassment for FDLE. At this point it appears they have little concern with the accuracy of evidence and only care about obtaining convictions. The problem with this is that the state basically has hired guns that are a subpoena away from testifying as an expert. This is a luxury many clients cannot afford. When those experts are willing to lie, cheat and steal to obtain a conviction it becomes a problem.

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