The Intoxilyzer 5000 is the breath test machine used throughout Texas to
test possibly intoxicated persons who have been arrested for DWI and DUI
under the current implied consent law. This machine is manufactured by
CMI, Incorporated and is the predominant machine in the United States
for breath testing by law enforcement personnel.
he State of Texas uses a machine called the
Intoxilyzer 5000, which is commonly referred to as a "
Intoxilyzer 5000 costs about $7,500. There are several models of the Intoxilyzer 5000 in
use in Texas including the model 64, 66, 68 and 68-EN. Many of these earlier
models have been in service for 15 or more years.
Intoxilyzer 5000 is simply a computer based on very old technology. The brains of this
outfit is a Z-80 microprocessor which was introduced almost 30 years ago
in 1975. The Z-80 microprocessor was the basis for some of the very first
home computers in the early 1980’s. Remember the "Radio Shack" TRS-80.
Intoxilyzer 5000 works on the theory of infrared absorption. The machine has a light bulb
positioned at one end of a breath capture cylinder. There are filter wheels
at the other end of the cylinder and on the other side of these filter
wheels is a light receiver.
A person suspected of or under arrest for DWI will blow into a breath tube
which leads to a breath chamber cylinder. The machine shines a light through
this cylinder and the filter wheels will be spinning on the other end
of the breath tube chamber. The infrared light causes the alcohol molecules
to "vibrate" or "absorb" light at a particular frequency.
The filter wheels are designed to filter out potential contaminants.
The amount of the breath sample and any reading of alcohol are very minute.
The machine must make a multiplication conversion to an amount great enough
for us to understand. The difference in light emitted and received is
computed through a computer program in the machine to come up a value
that can be compared to a .08.
The conversion the machine makes on the differences in light would be the
equivalent of taking the paper towel tube and increasing its size to that
of a 55 gallon drum! Any error would then be exaggerated by that amount.
How Reliable is the Breath Test ??
There is much debate on the
Intoxilyzer 5000. Proponents of it state that the machine will only read light absorbed
by alcohol, while opponents state the machine often misreads as alcohol
other commonly found substances in the breath, thus giving an inaccurate
Texas law only requires that the
perform within a plus or minus 10% accuracy rate. This means that a 20% variance in "
ok for government work". When the machine is periodically checked for proper function and
accuracy and known value of alcohol solution — 0.080 — is
used to test the machine, if the results are within 0.072 and 0.088 the
machine is deemed to be working properly.
An everyday example is if you are stopped and arrested for DWI and take
a breath test, and you blow a 0.080, when your actual alcohol content
is something less, you still face the additional charge of driving with
a .08 or higher. Very Scary.
The manufacturer does not warrant the Intoxilyzer 5000 for any particular purpose.
The machine is not warranted for accurate and reliable breath testing.
The Intoxilyzer also assumes that everyone tested will have a blood/breath
ration of 2100/1 (i.e. 2100 parts of alcohol in the breath for every 1
part of alcohol in the blood). If a person has a higher blood/breath ratio
(i.e. 2400/1) the test will not be adversely affected by this assumption.
However a person with a lower blood/breath ratio will be adversely affected
because the Intoxilyzer will erroneously read too high, thus a person
who should test at .05 or .06 could actually test well above a .08 Additionally,
scientists have documented people with blood/breath ratios as low as 1100/1.
A person with a fever will have a higher breath test reading than an identical
person without a fever. Therefore, the temperature of your body can affect what the Intoxilyzer
reads, and your body temperature has nothing to do with the amount of
alcohol you may have or have not consumed.
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced
criminal defense attorney for your Denton County DWI case or arrest in
Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no charge
or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899 .
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For
legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult
Criminal Defense Lawyers with Unparalleled Passion for Success Providing
Quality Representation for your Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Carrollton,
Corinth, Highland Village Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Denton County, Tarrant
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