Virginia's Smoking Gun

Posted On September 02, 2008

The Commonwealth of Virginia uses Intoxilyzer 5000 for their Breath Alcohol Content testing, just like Minnesota. The difference? Virginia has apparently caught on to the problems presented by this equipment.

In an application for additional funding, the Department of Forensic Science requested $196.870 (in addition to another $984,350 over five years) to replace the Breath Alcohol Equipment. According to the application, the Forensic Scientists in Virginia had "developed a plan to replace evidential breath test instruments used by police officers throughout the Commonwealth in the enforcement of the State's DUI statutes." When asked what the consequences of denying the funding would be, the Department commented that granting the request would allow the state to replace the Intoxilyzer 5000 that are 9-10 years old (the request was made in 2007; the machines are now 10-11 years old).

Finally, the Department was asked what the expected results would be if the state granted their request. Their response was "[t]o replace dated, unstable and unreliable Breath Alcohol instrumentation used by police officers throughout the Commonwealth to certify whether a driver is or is not impaired." I applaud the Commonwealth of Virginia for stepping up and admitting that the equipment they were using was "unstable and unreliable and in taking steps to correct the problem.

One has to wonder, if Virginia's machines are admittedly faulty, how is it possible that Minnesota's machines are functioning correctly beyond all reasonable doubt?

Charles A. Ramsay

Attorney at Law


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Roseville, MN 55113

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