Attorneys scoff at state health department’s claim of non-existent records

From The Columbus Dispatch For more than two years, Ohio Department of Health officials told judges and justices that it was nearly impossible — even under subpoena — for the agency to turn over past test results from Intoxilyzer 8000 alcohol breath-test machines.

Faced with an Ohio Supreme Court decision that could have made the $8,000 machines useless in testing drunken-driving suspects, the agency now says it expects to be able to turn over test results to defense attorneys by Dec. 1.

Over the years, some judges across Ohio have refused to admit test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000, ruling that it has not been proved scientifically reliable.

The Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 1 that DUI defendants are allowed to challenge the accuracy of their tests by obtaining data from previous results generated by the alcohol-test machine into which they blew.

Health officials had said it was a difficult technical and financial challenge to turn over years’ worth of computerized data about previous drivers’ test results and calibration tests from the oft-questioned testers.

Now, records provided in response to a request by The Dispatchshow that attorneys who since have issued subpoenas for test results are being told that “software is being created to access the requested records.”

DUI defense attorneys had contested the notion that the state could not produce data from hundreds of the Intoxilyzer 8000s that the health department bought for $7 million in 2009 and distributed to law-enforcement agencies across Ohio.

Defense lawyers said that state officials balked at turning over the data because it could prove that the machines deliver inaccurate results and cannot be legally relied on to convict suspects of drunken driving.

Continue Reading>>