In my last post, I introduced the I-9000 Breathalyzer controversy (read it HERE). Essentially, it appears that the breath test machine that the State of Colorado uses to currently test for DUI alcohol was fraudulently certified. This could potentially affect many DUI alcohol cases and have serious repercussions for many people.
This week, let’s take a look at the alleged fraud that surrounds the case.
Alleged Fraud Surrounding the I-9000 Breathalyzer
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment [“CDPHE”] is in charge of performing the necessary testing when the State changes its breath test machines. Before the I-9000, Colorado used the Intoxilyzer 5000 (I-5000) to test for blood alcohol content.
An important difference between the I-5000 and the I-9000 is that the I-5000 allowed people to get a second sample of their breath that could be independently tested. With the I-9000, there is no opportunity to recapture a second sample – at least not one that’s used – and the statute specifically states that because the I-9000 has been tested and is certified, second samples are unnecessary to determine accuracy.
Within CDPHE, a man named Jeff Groff allegedly did all the testing for the I-9000 and determined that it was a reliable unit. He proceeded to purchase units for the entire state from a company called CMI.
Many have questioned whether Groff adequately tested the machines, but we’ll never understand his process because he destroyed all of his test results. There is at least one interpretation that his destroying the research is contrary to Colorado law.
It’s also important to note that CMI will not sell an Intoxilyzer 9000 to anyone except for use by law enforcement. This means that someone who specializes in DUI defense is unable to purchase the machine and test it independently. Furthermore, CMI refuses to sell an operation manual, stating that it contains proprietary information.
This means that when you take your DUI alcohol case to Court and want to argue that the machine wasn’t working properly, there is no way to call in an expert witness… because no one outside of law enforcement has access to the machine.
Missed Deadlines and Whistleblowers
In order for new machines to be purchased and distributed to replace the old ones, each unit must be certified as properly functioning. However, the Department of Health and Environment missed the first deadline. They were quickly approaching a second deadline… and it appeared that they wouldn’t make that deadline, either.
At this point, a man named Mike Barnhill, who is now a whistleblower on the case, indicated that, instead of having him test all the machines (because he was the person that was qualified to do so), CDPHE brought in unqualified people to test the machines. These people forged his signature on many of the certificates.
As the hearing in Gilpin County is ongoing, the attorney has already brought in a handwriting expert to prove that the signature on the certificates does not belong to Mike Barnhill.
There is much more involved in this case, and, as it develops, more information should come to light. In my next post, I’ll go into further detail on the fraud and speak on possible repercussions.
If you have plead guilty to DUI alcohol and you were given a breathalyzer test, call our office to find out more about how this situation could affect your case. Call us today at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.