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Breathalyzers Come Under Fire in Court

Breathalyzers Come Under Fire in CourtSome while back, certain residents of Florida charged with DUI managed to get a court to hand them over the source code of the breathalyzer that had "proven" them to be drinking and driving. Now, in another victory for drunks everywhere, Dale Lee Underdahl of Minnesota has filed a similar petition and won.

What is source code and why would you want it? Breathalyzers are basically computers with blow holes, and the source code is what makes them run. That source code is what sends people to jail. The defendants in these cases simply want a good look at their accuser. As Underdahl's lawyer said, "for all we know, it's a random number generator."

The breathalyzer in question in Underdahl's case is the Intoxilyzer 5000EN, built by CMI, one of nearly a dozen manufacturers of devices used by law enforcement. CMI's Intoxilyzer is used in more than 20 states. What's frightening is that the 5000EN is apparently based on the ancient Z-80 processor, which powered the Radio Shack TRS-80 desktop computer ... which went on sale in 1977. CMI has also been accused of making uncertified changes to the machines, and had to issue a recall due to faulty software.

In other words, Underdahl may be on to something. But to be on the safe side, maybe next time he should just call a cab.

From Engadget

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Tags: breathalyser, breathalyzer, cmi, court, drunk driving, DrunkDriving, intoxilyxer, minnesota, source code, SourceCode



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