19 September 2006

99 little bugs in the code...

Maybe, just possibly, a tiny crack in the irrefutability of breathalyzers.

The lawyer for councilman Ross Hieb has filed a motion requesting the programming code of the Intoxilyzer 8000 the machine used when Hieb took a breath test April 23. Attorney John Jongeward filed the 11-page motion in San Luis Municipal Court.

The state will, of course, be bringing all its might to bear in this case to defend the indefensible.

Steve Butler, forensic alcohol supervisor for the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, says having the code doesn't make understanding the intoxilyzer more clear. He said the code is just lines of information in programming language that tells little.

Well, I'm no "forensic alcohol supervisor" but I guarantee if I got to see the source code, it would tell me a lot. Maybe its bugs (and there are bugs - it's software) are harmless, maybe they're not. However, the last time I checked,

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

If I'm being accused by some hack programmer who couldn't get out of Kentucky to find a better job, I damn well better get to confront him, and his source code.

5 comments:

Angela said...

Frick, I go away from my computer for a lil' bit and look at what I miss!

Call me crazy, but perhaps people shouldn't be drinking and driving in the first place. Maybe someone should tell Ross Hieb that.

R.A. Porter said...

Not to sound all Oliver Stone-LBJ-killed-JFK crazy here, but if I were to form a company to sell breathalyzers that were marketed as being "more reliable" and having "greater detection ability" that just returned .08 or above for anyone who was actually at .01 or .02 (or hell, randomly sober,) I suspect I'd make a boatload selling to police departments. At least I would if I could protect my source code as a trade secret.

There are dual goals for our men in blue...public safety and revenue. If the dude was drunk (hell, even if he was sober...he did get into a collision, so he was probably driving like crap) he should be punished; however, if the tools and techniques being used to determine guilt aren't transparent, there's no accountability. Without that, there can be no faith in the system.

Anonymous said...

I too have asked an ARIZONA court to order the production of the source code for the intoxilizer 8000 and was denied in a minute entry with NO explanation.Sounds like WE ARE in a POLICE NATION not just STATE.That machine doesn't even measure alcohol content, but ETHANOL which can be found in over 100+ compounds AND on one's breath.My freedom is at stake as well.

R.A. Porter said...

That sucks. You should at least have your lawyer appeal that decision. Doubt it'd help, unfortunately.

agentsaling@cia.com said...

Does anyone know of any DUI cases or news in the state of Kansas that are currently challenging the Intoxilyzer 8000?

Please email me at

agentsaling@cia.com