The Science Behind Breath Test Machines in New Hampshire

Posted by Joseph Fricano | Jan 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

Intoxilyzer 5000

The Intoxilyzer is a breath test machine that is currently used in Hillsborough County, as well as throughout the entire state of New Hampshire. To date, it has been shown that this machine is fraught with serious flaws that can only be really understood by looking into the “source code” of the machine. However, prosecutors generally refuse to give this information to the public, particularly DUI defense expert witnesses.

Breath test machines have been around since the 1950s, and they have been used to gather evidence of intoxication by measuring one's blood alcohol content through the use of breath analysis. Since that time, numerous manufacturers have come into the breath-analyzer market, and the science behind the machines has changed. The four primary scientific methods that are used by the various types of machines are infrared spectrophotometry, chemical analysis, fuel-cell detection, and gas chromatography.

In order to generate a breath alcohol level reading, the Intoxilyzer uses a specific computer program, and there have been numerous versions of this program throughout the years. The manufacturer of the machine claims that specific fail safe procedures were designed into the Intoxilyzer that will automatically point out any malfunctions of the machine. Those procedures are contained in and performed by a computer program that is held inside the machine. Thus, without this computer program the machine will not work.

In more recent years, new software for the machine has been created; however, with that software comes some new anomalies for the instrument. For instance, there have been hundreds if not thousands of DUI cases in which a person's breath volume was over the minimum set amount, yet they were flagged as “volume not met.” When that occurs, the breath test operator sees “volume not met,” and they claim that the subject refused to take the test because he or she did not blow hard enough.

This is why it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable attorney who is aware of the problems surrounding the Intoxilyzer. If you need the services of a Hillsborough County DUI lawyer, please call Joseph Fricano for a free consultation.

Law Office of Joseph C. Fricano
579 Daniel Webster Highway
Merrimack, NH 03054
Phone: (603) 880-6100

About the Author

Joseph Fricano

I began studying the criminal justice system as an undergraduate while attending St. Anselm's College. I graduated with honors in 1995, and I worked the summer of 1995 as a part-time Police Officer in York, Maine. During the fall of 1995, I joined the United States Marine Corps. While I was serv...


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