Thousands of Breathalyzers Called into Question in Colorado


The Colorado Criminal Defense Bar has called into question the validity of the breathalyzer, “Intoxilyzer 9000” used in measuring the blood alcohol content of suspected drunk drivers in Colorado. If true, thousands of DUI cases in Colorado could be affected.

Although breathalyzers are notoriously unreliable as it is, defense attorneys in Colorado have raised a very specific reason for calling the Intoxilyzer 9000 into question.

According to the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, a former technician for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, whose job it is to certify the breathalyzers, notified the Attorney General’s Office that his signature was forged to certify the breathalyzers.

The defense bar wrote a letter to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper about the CDPHE’s technician, Michael Barnhill.

“Mr. Barnhill asserts that Jeffrey Groff, who oversees the certification and maintenance of these devices, used temporary and inexperienced employees to test the machines and instructed these employees to forge Barnhill’s identification to do the work and to use Barnhill’s signature on documents to certify and place these devices into use,” said the letter.

“We want these tests to be accurate, and if they’re accurate, and our client is convicted, we can live with that,” Colorado Criminal Defense Bar representative Jay Tiftickjian said. “If they’re not accurate, it’s a travesty.”

According to the department, although signatures were forged, the certificates still comply with the CDPHE rules and regulations.

Sure, see how well that flies at trial; proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was over the legal limit using a breathalyzer calibrated by inexperienced and unqualified technicians and then forged with the signature of a qualified technician. Good luck.

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