In Cincinnati v. Ilg, the court ruled that a person accused of DUI can challenge the accuracy of specific results from the breath-analyzer machine used to conduct a breath-alcohol test.
Here's the summary of the case:
In October 2011, Ilg lost control of his vehicle while driving in Cincinnati and hit a fence, sign, and pole. After police arrested him, Ilg submitted to a breath-alcohol test, which was conducted using an Intoxilyzer 8000 machine. The results showed a breath-alcohol concentration of 0.143, above the legal limit of 0.08.
Ilg was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and with a prohibited amount of alcohol in his breath, as well as with failing to maintain control of his vehicle.
He pled not guilty. He asked the court to suppress the results of his breath test and sought discovery of various records, including computerized online breath archives (COBRA) data, related to the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine used to test him.
The city did not produce the data, so Ilg subpoenaed a health department official for the records. At a hearing, the trial court ordered the health department to disclose the records. The official testified that the department did not have the personnel, technology, or resources to provide the COBRA data.
The trial court found that Ilg could not challenge the reliability of his breath test without the data from the Intoxilyzer 8000 and excluded the breath-test results from being used as evidence in the case.
The city appealed, and the First District Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s decision.
The city then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court who issued a unanimous opinion agreeing with the trial court and the court of appeals. In their decision, the court reiterated that longstanding law has prohibited a general attack on the reliability of DUI testing machines once they have been approved by the state. However, a defendant accused of DUI is permitted to challenge the test results of the specific machine that conducted their test. DUI testing machines are not flawless and sometimes errors occur, this ruling will allow those rare flaws to be discovered and utilized in a defense. You can read the full opinion here.