Ohio Supreme Court Suppresses Results of Intoxilyzer 8000 As Sanction for Failure to Turnover Discovery

By | October 8, 2014

In the case of Cincinnati v. Ilg, the suspect was in a one car accident. The police suspected that he had a prohibited amount of alcohol in his system and tested him using the Intoxilyzer 8000. Mr.Ilg’s attorney filed a Criminal Rule 16 discovery request with the trial court.

The suspect, through his attorney, requested discovery of the subject test and instrument-check printouts and forms, diagnostic and calibration checks, maintenance, service, and repair records, radio frequency interference test records, and any computerized or downloaded information or data from the specific Intoxilyzer 8000 machine used to test him. He also sought data from that machine not only as it related to his test, but also for three years prior to his arrest and for three months following it.

He further requested through a subpoena to the program administrator for alcohol and drug testing at the Ohio Department of Health, [a] copy of any and all records maintained by the Ohio Dept. of Health and the Ohio Depart. of [Public] Safety relating to the Intoxilyzer 8000, serial number 80–004052, * * * including but not limited to: a. Any and all computerized online breath archives data, also known as ‘COBRA’ data.” “COBRA data” refers to a database maintained by ODH that records information transmitted from each breath-analyzer machine for each breath test performed in the field, and it also includes personal information of other individuals the machine had tested.

Lastly he subpoenaed records related to the machine’s log-in history, repair and maintenance, radio frequency interference certification, and software changes or modifications, as well as any communications regarding the Intoxilyzer 8000 between ODH and the city of Cincinnati, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and the manufacturer of the breath-analyzer machine.

No one responded to his discovery requests or his subpoenas. Mr. Ilg moved for sanctions in the form of suppression of the evidence of the Intoxilyzer 8000 test. The trial court gave the prosecutor a deadline to disclose the requested information. This deadline was not met. The trial court excluded the results of the Intoxilyzer 8000 test. The prosecutor appealed but the first District Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s suppression of evidence.

The prosecutor appealed again to the Ohio Supreme Court. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that while a drunk driving suspect cannot challenge the general reliability of breath testing machines which had been certified by the Ohio legislature, drunk driving suspects are free to challenge the results of any individual test. The Ohio Supreme Court held that without the requested information, suspect cannot challenge the individual test.

The Ohio Supreme Court reasoned that since an accused may challenge the accuracy of specific test results rendered by a rather wiser machine the suspect is entitled to discovery of relevant evidence to support his claim that the Intoxilyzer 8000 machine used to test him failed to operate properly while he was being tested. Therefore the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the first District Court of Appeals and the evidence of the Intoxilyzer 8000 test result was suppressed.