Breathalyzer – What Is It?

Interviewer: For people who don’t know, when you say Intoxilizer, that means the breathalyzer right?

Ladan Law:  The breathalyzer is called the Intoxilizer 8000. It is basically a computer. It is operated on a computer code. It’s got a chamber that collects an air sample from your breath. It shoots specific wave lengths of light through it. The wave lengths bounce off sugar molecules at a specific velocity. It can measure those things. Once it does that, it can determine, theoretically, the alcohol content in your blood. So, when I say the Intoxilizer that is the brand name of the machine that does that.

Interviewer:  Just for clarification, is that the machine that is used at the roadside or is that the machine used at the police station?

Ladan Law:  The machine that is used on the roadside is called a PBT, a portable breath testing unit. They are not certified as accurate in the state of Florida. What they can do, however, is assist the officer to weed out a close call. They are allowable for a driver for a driver under 21 that has any alcohol in their system whatsoever. They are allowable as evidence in a Department of Motor Vehicles proceeding in that specific instance. The portable breath units are not certified. There are some agencies in central Florida that are trying to move into a mobile Intoxilizer unit. It is fully mounted in a car. It won’t be a handheld unit. To this point, they’ve had difficulty with that because the calibration is so sensitive. If they’re blowing into a machine somewhere in a building after being driven there by the police department, it is likely that you are blowing into an Intoxilizer machine.

Interviewer: I wanted to get the context on that machine. Once you’ve been arrested and charged, how public will your situation be? Will work find out? How about friends and family?

Ladan Law:  The first thing that happens, unfortunately, in our digital age is there are private companies that will post a mug shot. Anybody that is arrested, their arrest photograph is public record. There are, the Orlando Sentinel, our local paper, will post mug shots from the previous day. There is some chance your friends and family are going to find out from that if they’re perusing the paper or make it a habit to flip through the mug shots from the previous day. They could find you in that area. There is some issue.

The second thing that’s going to happen is a case number is going to be generated at the clerk’s office in the county that you’re arrested. Most all of the local county court offices information is accessible online, simply by a name search. Nobody is notified but if someone was looking it would be possible for them to find that you’ve got an active case.

The next thing that is going to happen, there are several firms, and mine is not excluded from them this, that will send a mail piece out directly to your home. It touts their knowledge and experience and talks about some of these red flags I’ve been talking about. You will get between 50 to 100 pieces of mail from local attorneys that have gotten your name from list. It’s likely that whoever is living at your home is going to be aware that something is going on in your life. It’s likely that your family, at least, is going to know that that’s an issue.

And, finally, because of the requirement that you must be in jail for eight hours, I would imagine that your close friends and family are going to wonder where you are. Also there will be a bond amount, usually it is $500, to bond out of jail. A lot of people don’t have access to that money on them. They have to reach out to friends and family to come post that. Those are the things that come to mind as far as things becoming public.

At some point, your insurance company is going to be made aware that there’s an issue. If you take the DUI class, if your license is suspended or if you enter a plea in criminal court, your vehicle insurance carrier is going to be notified and it will go on your driving record, so that’s a concern, as well.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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