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Intoxilyzer will be retired

The beleaguered Intoxilyzer machine, under constant legal attack for nearly five years, is being mothballed statewide for use in drunken driving arrests.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Monday it has entered into a contract to purchase a new fleet of breath-testing instruments for use by Minnesota criminal justice agencies.

Thousands of DWI cases have been bottlenecking district courts as legal challenges mounted to the Intixilyzer 5000EN machine.

Defense attorneys sought its source code to determine if the machine was accurately recording the concentration of alcohol in a suspected drunken driver's system.

The Intoxilyzer's manufacturer has balked at turning over what it maintains are trade secrets about the machines as legions of attorneys journey to the company's Kentucky headquarters.

Hubbard County attorney Don Dearstyne ordered a halt to law enforcement agencies using the machine last winter when the legal quagmire over its use deepened.

But Dearstyne said that has meant delays in getting blood and urine analysis results to prosecute drunken driving cases.

Some defendants have opted to be in a mass implied consent lawsuit that seeks the code. It remains consolidated and pending in the state's First Judicial District.

The BCA announcement said the Intoxilyzer will be replaced by the Datamaster DMT breath-testing instrument from the National Patent Analytical Systems of Mansfield, Ohio.

"The new instruments will allow near real-time monitoring of fleet performance and allow for maintenance of instruments from a central remote location," said BCA Public Information Officer Jill Oliveira.

"Data gathered by the instruments will automatically populate eCharging DWI forms, which then go directly to Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services," she said.

"Pairing this instrument with eCharging will lead to a more efficient legal process for those driving under the influence of alcohol in Minnesota, " the BCA noted.

The transition to a new instrument is part of the BCA's instrument replacement schedule, the agency reported. The eCharging compatibility is part of the Office of Traffic Safety's larger Model Impaired Driving Records Information System, according to the agency.

Oliveira said the BCA will receive eight instruments for in-house validation and for factory training of BCA staff. The BCA will then train all breath test instrument operators at criminal justice agencies across Minnesota. That training for the transition to the new instruments is expected to begin this fall.

Dearstyne said it could be several months before the machines are operational in the Hubbard County area.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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