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Why I don't trust Illinois breath test instruments, and why you shouldn't either. Part 1.

The Illinois State Police owns and services breath test instruments used by law enforcement for measuring breath alcohol content of motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. The instruments are supposed to test deep alveolar breath - breath coming from the alveolar regions of the lungs. The alveolar are very thin tissue where oxygen mixes with blood. This deep lung air is supposed to have a good relationship to blood, and by testing it, the instrument is intended to provide an accurate measurement of blood alcohol content. If you have a basic understanding of human physiology, you may be suspect already, but just wait.

The Illinois State Police owns and services breath test instruments used by law enforcement for measuring breath alcohol content of motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. The instruments are supposed to test deep alveolar breath - breath coming from the alveolar regions of the lungs. The alveolar are very thin tissue where oxygen mixes with blood. This deep lung air is supposed to have a good relationship to blood, and by testing it, the instrument is intended to provide an accurate measurement of blood alcohol content. If you have a basic understanding of human physiology, you may be suspect already, but just wait.

The flagship instrument in Illinois is the EC/IR II. This instrument is touted by the manufacturer, Intoximeters, Inc., and the Illinois State Police to be extremely accurate. It has two components that make up the system. The "battery" type measurement device measures electric current of alcohol in the breath and converts that current into a measurement of breath alcohol content.

The second component is the infrared device. It is the most important component for accuracy because it is the device which triggers the battery device at the optimum time for an accurate measurement.

If a motorist has indigestion or has recently consumed even a small amount of alcohol, the motorist may blow a high measurement even when not intoxicated. Even a twenty minute waiting period, which is required by Illinois law, will not guarantee accuracy if the motorist experiences indigestion during the waiting period.

Never worry says the Illinois State Police, the second component of the instrument, the Infrared device, will assure that mouth alcohol will not spike the measurement and lead to a faulty reading. The Infrared device measures breath alcohol continually during the test and signals the battery device to take the measurement only when mouth alcohol is not present. If the Infrared device detects mouth alcohol, it will stop the test.

So far, so good. Accuracy is maintained by continual periodic tests of the instrument every 62 days before and after a test and recordation of the test results. Since the Infrared is the "brains" of the outfit, you would naturally assume it would be periodically tested. WRONG! When questioned, one of the lead official breath test technicians of the Illinois State Police admitted that the Infrared device is never tested. When asked how they would know if it was inaccurate, he admitted that they probably would not know.

Would you want to be tested by this machine if you went out to dinner, had a glass of wine and some nice spicy food? Not me!

If you understand the problems with this machine, you should politely refuse to be tested. Sure you might have to be suspended longer than if you gave the breath test, but that is less suffering than if you are convicted based on an unreliable machine. If that occurred, your license would not just be suspended, it would be revoked and not be reinstated until you hired a qualified attorney to conduct a hearing with the Illinois Secretary of State - more cost, more delay.

The only Exception is - in the unlikely event you are presented with a WARRANT for breath, blood, urine or other testing, you should give the test because refusing a warrant is a FELONY and most DUI charges are not felonies.

Qualified, experienced, and aggressive DUI lawyers understand that not all people are the same and not one size fits all in the area of breath test instruments and even in the best of circumstances, instruments often are unreliable. This is the expertise you need when you are charged with DUI.

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