Over the last few weeks, I’ve been following the Colorado controversy regarding the Intoxilyzer-9000, a breath test machine (breathalyzer) used by the Colorado authorities to determine intoxication. Read more on the history of this case by clicking HERE.
On April 19th the hearing proceeded in Gilpin County, Colorado. The state put on witnesses in an attempt to defend their position regarding the breathalyzer machines, and essentially their argument was, “We’ve now checked the machines and they’re fine. Anything that happened in the past is no longer relevant.”
They put a couple witnesses on the stand who contributed to this argument and finally Mr. Jeff Groff, the man who was originally tasked with doing the research to select the instrument for the State, appeared on the stand.
(If you’ve been following this case, you may remember that while Mr. Groff was responsible for testing the machines, he mysteriously destroyed all his research after declaring that they were fit to use. His methods and research are unavailable.)
At the time when this article was written, the hearing had still not been completed. Since there were so many witnesses called, the Court didn’t have time to finish the examination of Mr. Groff. Another hearing was scheduled to give the defense attorney a chance to cross-examine him.
Understanding Why This is Important
The outcome of this case could seriously affect a great number of DUI cases in the State of Colorado. If the Court finds that the I-9000 was indeed fraudulently certified, anyone who was convicted of DUI due to a breathalyzer test using the I-9000 might be able to contest the conviction.
It’s in the State’s interest to find a way to prove that the breathalyzer machine was indeed properly certified and working correctly. They are trying to avoid the situation where every DUI results in a trial where these issues arise. Otherwise, every DUI case will turn into a 3-4 day jury trial, which will clog up the system and become more expensive for everyone involved.
At the moment, the State is taking the position of, “No harm, no foul.” They know they had the wrong name on the certifications, but their approach is, “What difference does it make? There’s no requirement to have a name on the certificate. The important part is that the machines were certified.”
As it happens, the machines must be re-certified on a yearly basis. So, the I-9000 may have been tested and declared to be working properly since the original certification (more than a year has passed since that time).
However, all that said, it will come down to the judge’s decision as to whether the original fraud can be overlooked or must be addressed.