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Ontario court finds common breathalyzer inaccurate, opening legal can of worms


A court ruling in Ontario could have wide implications for drivers across the country and in the United States. A judge has ruled that a common type of breathalyzer test is inaccurate.

It's an issue that has surfaced before in Ontario, questions about the accuracy of breathalyzers, specifically the Intoxilyzer 8000C. It has also been an issue in Ohio and and has affected thousands of drivers. A growing number of defendants in that state are challenging the accuracy of the 8000C, claiming it wrongly inflated their blood alcohol levels.

Now, criminal defense lawyer Richard Posner, with the help of a scientific expert, has convinced an Ontario judge that the breathalyzer used by police, the 8000C, is truly flawed. Posner says it's something the public needs to know.
"There were a large number of unusual or aberrant results, there were very unusually low calibration checks, there were failed diagnostic tests, just a number of problems in the instrument's history," Posner said.
Posner says the device is broadly used by police forces across Canada, in the U.S., and around the world.
"The results from these instruments are relied upon every day in our courts. This case does have the potential to have broad ramifications," he added.
The implications are huge and could affect current and future impaired driving cases. Past convictions can't be opened after 30 days
As for the ruling, legal authorities in Ontario say they will appeal and some experts believe the case could go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.