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Florida DUI Law and Open Source

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-code-no-breath dept.

The Courts 400

pete314 writes "A Florida court this Friday will hear arguments in a case where the accuracy of a breathalyzer is being scrutinized because the manufacturer refuses to release the source code. A state court ruling last year said that accused drunk drivers are entitled to receive details about the inner workings of the "mystical machine" that determined their guilt, and defense attorneys are now using that ruling to open up the device's source code.Is this part of a larger trend? With software bugs being a fact of life, consumers and organizations could claim that they need to be able to verify an application's source code before they accept that their calculations are accurate. Think credit card transactions, speed detecting radar guns, electronic voting machines..." Here is our previous story when this first became an issue in Florida.

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400 comments

GNAA Announces Corporate Downsizing (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832221)

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I think it should be illegal to.. (2, Funny)

picz plz (915164) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832228)

drink and write open source software.

Crazy moonbats.

Re:I think it should be illegal to.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832237)

I know, we shouldn't even have drunk driving laws. I drive BETTER when I've had a few. (lol @ republicans)

-A Sarcastic "Moon Bat"

Remember, ... (4, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832313)

... friends don't let friends code drunk.

Re:Remember, ... (5, Funny)

Dorothy 86 (677356) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832405)

But the catch-22 is that people who code don't normally have friends.

(calm down, mods... it's a joke!)

Re:Remember, ... (1)

edbosanquet (729289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832659)

I disagree I have done some of my best coding after a couple of beers.

Should all government software be open source? (5, Insightful)

MacFury (659201) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832236)

If, ideally, the government exists soley for it's citizens. Would it be in our best interest to be able to view the source code of non classified projects? If the government is in fact using our tax dollars to pay programmers, should we be entitled to view the outcome of their work and does it become public domain if paid for by public funds?

Re:Should all government software be open source? (4, Interesting)

jfruhlinger (470035) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832328)

The reason there's no push for this is that for most people, making code open source doesn't actually improve their access to it. For 99.999 percent of the US population (and, I'd wager, a solid majority of Slashdot readers), an open source breathalyzer is still a mysterious box. The only difference is that you could get a computer scientist who doesn't work for the manufacturer to explain it. Now I do think that this is important (especially when it comes to voting machines) but for most people it probably doesn't come across as a great blow for openness and freedom.

jf

Re:Should all government software be open source? (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832345)

And one could also get a credible computer scientist, under an NDA from the hardware or software vendor, to explain it and/or audit the code.

Which blows away the whole notion that this trend will force all code, everywhere, to become Open Source (tm).

Re:Should all government software be open source? (5, Insightful)

dwandy (907337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832641)

No it doesn't.
Maybe I'm wrong, but imho, every free citizen has the right to personally verify any evidence used against them in a court of law. Whether or not that citizen is able to comprehend the arguments/details/whatever is not relevant - only that they be allowed to review it.
If they are personally unable to comprehend this, then this affords them the opportunity to consult with the experts of their choosing as they see fit - not as the gvt sees fit.

For due process to be transparent, the defendant needs to be afforded every opportunity to review and question every element that is being used to convict him/her. No matter how "independant" any group/company/organisation/person might be on paper, they are still not "my guy" if they have to sign "their papers" in order to see the evidence.

While this doesn't exlcude non-OSS, it does (and imho should) exclude anything where the mechanism is a trade secret. (that doesn't mean it's OSS, just not a trade secret)

Re:Should all government software be open source? (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832691)

Aren't there Trade Secrets?

Haven't people been prosecuted for revealing Trade Secrets without said Trade Secrets being further revealed in the legal proceedings?

Re:Should all government software be open source? (1)

Bombcar (16057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832697)

Couldn't they just make it so that the ticket you sign is also an NDA allowing you to examine the source if you so wish?

Re:Should all government software be open source? (4, Insightful)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832334)

Would it be in our best interest to be able to view the source code of non classified projects?

Yes. It would be very ideal and it would be in our very best interest to view the source code. It I think affirms the part of accountability. I want to make sure that my govt. isn't screwing me (fines etc) by writing manipulated code

If the government is in fact using our tax dollars to pay programmers, should we be entitled to view the outcome of their work

Of course, I want to be sure and for that matter every responsible citizen should be assured that their dollars are not being just given to corporations. Halliburton rings any bell?

and does it become public domain if paid for by public funds?

This is debatable. Obviously you wouldn't want your defense software etc to be open source but breath analyzer, I think poses no threat to national security.

Re:Should all government software be open source? (4, Interesting)

Vombatus (777631) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832373)

In a properly functioning democracy, all government should be open source - that is, it should be open to scruitiny from anyone and everyone.

Some jurisdictions have Freedom of Information and other assorted records laws, which entitle normal citizens the right of access to documents and records, ensure that they are not destroyed to cover things up, etc.

Unfortunately, some governments work extraordinarily hard to subvert these rights. Of course, some people in some countries/states/etc do not have these rights to begin with.

So YES, governments should be open source.

Re:Should all government software be open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832377)

No. That would be extremely irresponsible. Unfortunately the source would not only be open to the citizens of your country, but to everyone in the world, allowing other countries to steal the work your taxes paid for.

Governments should be responsible with your tax dollars and use closed source as much as possible.

Re:Should all government software be open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832566)

Software written by U.S. government employees already is public domain.

Re:Should all government software be open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832597)

But this was written and owned by a contractor, the government was just buying the finished product.

And even though stuff is in the public domain, you still have to FOIA it to get a copy (speaking from experience).

Re:Should all government software be open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832620)

Come on, lets be realistic. So do we need to see the blueprints on the alcohol sensors to make sure they are accurate? Do we have to audit the factory that makes the devices to make sure the devices aren't faulty?

I personally believe the justice system is a subjective system, and you can never be 100% sure of ANYTHING.

Umm (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832246)

1. Why start with breathalyzers, and not voting machines?

2. So is this kind of ruling going to spread to radar detectors, baggage-scanning equipment, automated video cameras, etc?

Re:Umm (2, Insightful)

Cmdr-Absurd (780125) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832292)

Why start with breathalyzers, and not voting machines?

Because someone is paying a defence attorney big bucks to get him/her off the hook and this angle hasn't been tried yet?

The average American would rather lose the vote than the driver's license.

Re:Umm (2, Insightful)

NoTheory (580275) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832306)

1) Because as worried as politicians say they are about voting fraud, they're really not going to do anything serious about it. 2) Depends how much it is fought over. This sounds dangerous enough to vested interests that Congress might even weigh in.

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832356)

Why stop there? We are constantly denied the truth about many things that affect our lives more profoundly than the inner workings of baggage scanning equipment, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb cogently points out in this nice little essay [edge.org] . So I'm wondering, if the legality of a matter hinges on knowing the whole truth, where does it end?

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832437)

There is now quite a movment for the voting thing:
http://www.openvoting.org/ [openvoting.org]

Already some legislation for this in a few states...

Re:Umm (2, Funny)

kklein (900361) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832600)

Because more people get DUIs than vote, duh.

Because ... (0, Flamebait)

Agarax (864558) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832703)

Not everyone wears a tinfoil hat like you?

Kerry lost the election. Get over it. Have a cookie.

Maybe if you actually got involved and tried to get more of your little hippie friends to vote it might have turned out differently.

Or maybe if the two main political parties put forward canidates other than Mr Stupid and Mr Ignorant (or even the almost canidate Mr Nutjob)we might live in a better country.

Sorry But (3, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832249)

I'm sorry, I am all for open source and think it should be promoted. But if the breathalyzer's accuracy has been tested and verified, not being open source should not be a reason to let a drunk driver off the hook, in my opinion.

Re:Sorry But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832258)

I agree, we should leave all drunks on hooks, ala Cat's Cradle.

Re:Sorry But (0, Troll)

monkaduck (902823) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832264)

This has nothing to do with the accuracy of the breathalyzer and everything to do with the sleazy practices of DUI defense attorneys. Like all good ambulance chasers, they will use every tactic in the book to get their clients off. I've had far too many dealings with them as a volunteer for MADD to ever think again that they belong to the same species as I do.

Re:Sorry But (1)

Mnemia (218659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832379)

Your opinion is automatically invalidated because you volunteered for that neo-Prohibitionist organization. I'll be modded troll for this, but that's my reflexive feelings about it.

Besides, it's a defense lawyer's job to do anything in his power to get his client off. And a lot of people who get charged with DUI are innocent, due to overzealous law enforcement, runaway prosectors, and a justice system that considers people guilty until proven innocent when it's a "socially unacceptable" crime they are accused of. These machines are actually extremely inaccurate, and should be questioned. The margins for error are even slimmer with the new "improved" lower BAC limits.

Re:Sorry But (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832532)

Your opinion is automatically invalidated because you volunteered for that neo-Prohibitionist organization. I'll be modded troll for this, but that's my reflexive feelings about it.

And your opinion is instantly invalid because you tacted neo onto a word to make a point.

Seriously, just because he volenteers for MADD doesn't reduce the validity of his opinion.

Re:Sorry But (1)

Mnemia (218659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832674)

Hey, I even admit it was over the top. That's why I said I'd probably be modded troll for it.

Re:Sorry But (4, Interesting)

chrpai (806494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832384)

I pulled jury duty earlier this year and was placed on a DUI trial. I can tell you that breatholizers are complete bullshit. In Texas if you are pulled over refuse to take the test and offer to have a blood sample instead. They will threaten to take your license away if you say no but it's an administrative process and you can still get exemptions and keep driving.

I learned alot more about DUI law during that trial and while I never personally drink and drive I could see very easily how one could be falsely suspected and convicted.

So how did the jury decide? We didn't there was a mistrail because the "sleezy lawyer" ( the prosecutor in this case ) asked the cop a question about the administration of a PBT ( portable breath test ). These are not admissible in TX court and the judge had already said it wasn't allowed in. The judge felt that we wouldn't ignore the fact that we had heard the cops answer and declared a mistrial. He said he felt the prosecutor made a "mistake" but I don't believe it. I think she knew the trial wasn't going her way and wanted a way out.

It kinda sucked actually.... it was like reading a novel and not getting to read the end of the book.

Re:Sorry But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832420)

I agree that the guilty should be punished, but I believe that the evidence against them should be subject to discovery. The state shouldn't be using some "magic box" that may or may not actually work, I believe that any and *all* changes to it, as well as the workings of it should be subject to public scrutiny. By this, we can confidently punish the guilty as we should.

And if the government has to take their copyrights be eminent domain or something, so be it. But I don't think it's reasonable to convict someone unless we can actually acertain that they were guilty, and we have no way of knowing they were over the legal limit unless these devices are accurate.

If they have any sense, they'll be recertifying this thing promptly to close this loophole.

I already remember that man seemingly abused by the police in Louisiana and then charged with "public intoxication" although no records exist of this, and the video makes it look like it was a convenient excuse they didn't even need to supply evidence for most of the time (!) to beat on the guy.

So by *all* means, punish the guilty! But let's not take shortcuts and assume anyone's guilt in doing so! Prove it, *then* punish.

Yes, I'm very sad at how many guilty people will probably escape due to this. Probably far more than the innocents. But it's *not* acceptable to punish the innocent because we don't want to bother being sure if they're guilty or not.

Re:Sorry But (4, Interesting)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832464)

This has nothing to do with the accuracy of the breathalyzer and everything to do with the sleazy practices of DUI defense attorneys.

An attorney is the last defense between a defendant and The Government, which can, at the point of a gun, take away one's money, freedom or even life. It should be plainly obvious that The Government is much more powerful than the individual, and so it is vitally important that the individual be allowed a representative who will point out when The Government doesn't have an i dotted or a t crossed. Having a defense attorney that gets his client off on "a technicality" is the best way to insure that the government will do ITS job properly, fairly and fully, rather than putting someone in prison unjustly.

Let me assure you I'm not happy with drunk drivers or any lawbreaker getting off, but it would be much worse for an innocent person to be found guilty.

I once inherited a "simple" project, a pressure transducer with microcontroller that gave readings to a 'main' computer in decimal. While testing it I noticed that readings were sometimes way off. There was a bug in the binary to decimal conversion routine that causes about a 10 percent error in 1 out of about every 50 values (I recall it was an odd little table lookup thing).

So these days it DOES happen, and with bugs in "simple" devices perhaps moreso than ever, a "simple device" CAN be very wrong, and in this case it could cause the defendant a large fine, loss of license or even a jail term even though he may have actually below the legal limit.

You may argue that the legal limit for DUI alcohol tests is too high and should be lowered (further than has been done in recent decades), and there's probably a good argument for that (based on the punishment and very low drunk driving rates in some European contries), but again, this is a different matter than properly enforcing the current law.

Re:Sorry But (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832474)

With regard to some defense attorneys, I suspect that you're dead right.

That said, if I was "convicted by machine" I would want to know:
o That the machine was accurate, and had been maintained in such a condition as to maintain its accuracy.
o That it was calibrated and tested regularly.

Years ago I used to work for a company that made infrared milk analyzers, around about the time that the first infrared alcohol detectors replaced the "blow in the bag" crystals. The alcohol machines were much cheaper and appeared to be less accurate - they used one beam instead of the two (sample + reference beams) that I'd have expected and didn't appear to be maintained at a constant external temperature. However, they probably don't need to be that accurate - the milk analysers were accurate to 0.01 or 0.02% of a constituent of milk, but I doubt that only that much over the drink / drive limit is going to get you convicted.

When I was involved, the "software" side of infrared analysis (other than hardware control and display) was essentially correcting for inaccuracies in the hardware - making a series of measurements with known (independantly calibrated) inputs and changing the displayed result to match.

The fact that the software or the hardware has changed slightly since originally certified is irrelevant provided that the machine is regularly (independantly if necessary) tested and shown to be within the required level of accuracy. Software is also somewhat irrelevant if the machine can provide at-the-detector measurements before they are converted to "amount of alcohol in a sample", and allow that to be compared to a reference sample series.

For what it's worth, none of the software that I wrote for milk analyzers was ever "proven correct" in a mathematical sense, although it was of course tested in the normal sense.

Re:Sorry But (4, Insightful)

Tester (591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832272)

I'm sorry, I am all for open source and think it should be promoted. But if the breathalyzer's accuracy has been tested and verified, not being open source should not be a reason to let a drunk driver off the hook, in my opinion.

I'm all for Free Software too.. and I also dont think the drunk driver should be let off the hook. That's why the source code has to be released.. Its not as if it was complex software.. and I mean.. they are selling a machine. Its not like asking Microsoft to Free Windows .. it wont kill the company.. But will probably guarantee a fair trial.. And it creates a good precedent for voting machines, etc.

Re:Sorry But (1)

yiantsbro (550957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832302)

But is is the precedent that kills those arguments (not complicated software, won't kill company). The precedent would set the stage for forced release of complicated, company killing software in the future.

Re:Sorry But (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832605)

Then that's tough. Do you really think the well-being of a company (whose sole customer is the government) should be placed ahead of the interests of justice? If it's determined that open code for the Breathalyser is the only way to ensure justice is being served, then so shall it be, and the market will just have to deal with it.

Personally I think there's way too much contracting being done already. If the US Government wants breathalysers, they can hire some engineers to design them, and post the code. I bet this'll be cheaper than contracting someone to do it (Halliburton, anyone?), and the world will get the blueprints and code for a breathalyser for free.

***

My grandmother died recently, a notorious pack-rat. Cleaning out her attic, we found pamphlets distributed by the government during the 1940's and 1950's. They included a *very detailed* guide to the mechanical and carpentry properties of different sorts of wood -- everything you'd want to know about selecting wood to build with. Another talked about radioactive fallout -- what isotopes are likely to be present, the effects of radiation on humans, how radioactive decay works, and the like.

I was impressed. Name some recent effort by the US government to provide information to the public on such a detailed level, not because it's politically expedient or profitable but just because *it is the government's prime job to be useful to its citizens.*

Re:Sorry But (2, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832449)

The question remains why. If the accuracy of the machine can be demonstrated why is anyone entitled to the source as part of a criminal trial?

Re:Sorry But (4, Insightful)

Pedersen (46721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832573)

If the accuracy of the machine can be demonstrated why is anyone entitled to the source as part of a criminal trial?

Because the accuracy of the machine can only be demonstrated with the test data that is available. While this should be very close to reality, we have no way of verifying that the test data chosen is relevant to the case of the person on trial. With the source code, we can verify the implementation, and make sure that that implementation will accurately reflect on the defendant.



Put another way: This software is only slightly less critical than the software which is used in the space program. There, people die. In this case, lives can be destroyed by a wrongful conviction. At least if you die, your problems are over and done with. Now, what if a particular test case was missed? How would you know? Even worse, what if THAT test case shows that one in every 10 readings will be wildly inaccurate? Without the source code, what chance do you have of proving this?

Re:Sorry But (3, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832279)

"breathalyzer's accuracy has been tested and verified"

The breathalyzer's accuracy HAD been tested. But since the tests the company released numerous software upgrades that have not been tested.

I see no reason to turn over the source code, however, simply retest the devices after each upgrade.

Do you think their testing is 100% foolproof? (5, Insightful)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832316)

If the software is complex enough to require "numerous software upgrades", then it is complex enough to have bugs. And it seems to me that not all bugs would necessarily show up under testing.

Re:Do you think their testing is 100% foolproof? (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832326)

Good point.

Even if it had been tested... (4, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832410)

Even if the brethalyzer's accuracy had been tested, so what?

Think about easter eggs and date bugs: How do you know the software works correctly on leap year day? On Sundays? On the 295th test? If the cop enters "124341+" on the keypad just before running the test?

You don't.

The output of a machine is NEVER evidence in a trial. What is evidence is the expert testimony of a human - hired by the prosecution - that the output is correct. (This has an incentive structure that encourages both fraud and rose-colored-viewing on the expert's part.)

To mount a defense the accused needs to be able to hire his OWN expert and let HIM examine the machine and identify any ways it could have made a false indication. Then you get a conviction if, and only if, the prosecution's expert is able to show that none of those occurred, so the reading is accurate.

For the defense expert to be able to do his job on a software-using system he needs access to the source. If the prosecution is able to deny him that, he has been denied - by his opponent - his due process right to challenge the evidence against him. So the evidence MUST be thrown out if he is to have a fair trial. IM(NAL)HO that's cut and dried.

Imagine if the machine was a witness. The prosecution gets to question the witness. The defense does not get to cross-examine him. See where that would lead?

How about a program that allegedly (according to a prosecution's expert witness) examines evidence and says "he's guilty" or "he's innocent"? Without a defense expert examining the code how do you know it's not:

  g = "innocent"
  repeat until eof
      if input line == "officer O'Malley saw a rabbit"
        g = "guilty"
  print "he's " g

So it's:
  1) open the software generally,
  2) open the software to a long string of (expensive) defense expert witnesses,
  3) not use the software's output if challenged, or
  4) deny due process.

If they try to settle on 2) it's easy to argue that not going to 1) denys due process to the poor, since they can't take advantage of the expensive experts.

Result: No closed-software devices can be used by the procecution if challenged (unless the courts decide to deny due process).

Re:Even if it had been tested... (4, Interesting)

OneArmedMan (606657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832567)

There was a case in Australia, where an improved version of the breathalyzer machine "got drunk". After having serveral people blow below the legal limit, the machine started to acrue the alcohol, eg person 1 0.01 PCA, person 2 0.02 PCA , etc etc until this fellow blew and it went over the limit.

Problem was this fellow was of a religion ( cant remember which one ) that forbade alcohol. So he goes back to the station for a blood test and Lo for the blood test came back negative for alcohol.

And now blood tests are needed to convict on DUI and "blowing in the bag" is used to see if a blood test is needed.

( currently looking for link )

Re:Sorry But (3, Insightful)

Cylix (55374) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832282)

In one light,

This is a good tactic to get your client off the hook as people tend to be greedy. This might not work on every judge of course, but it's not a bad tactic to try if you have the money to spend. Who knows... maybe he was not legally intoxicated. The truth is the person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law (unless you wave that right).

In another sense... it is a good stepping stone to have those "mysterious" inner workings of other sensitive devices exposed. Oh noes screams the company... we can no longer hide behind the curtain.

Yeah, it sucks it is being started out with a DUI case with scrutiny being eyed on a critical piece of equipment as a breathalizer, but the trend has to start somewhere.

Re:Sorry But (1)

shibashaba (683026) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832442)

If the brethalizer is the tipping point in a DUI trial that means that there is no other evidence that they are drunk. If the defendant was stumbling around, slurring, etc than it's easy for them to be proven guilty without a breathalizer. This can only really be a factor in cases where the person is right around the legal limit and handling whatever they drank. If a machine is to be used to prove somebodies guilt than it deserves to be scrutinized. The fact that these can be serious crimes means that the evidence should be taken seriously as well.

Re:Sorry But (1)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832482)

Even if they throw out the breathalyzer the defendants could still be convicted. A breathalyzer exam is only one piece of evidence. You have the testimony of the officer on the scene, results of any touch your nose and walk a line test, etc.

Also they admit to having software problems in the past CMI had to recall its devices in at least one case due to a software error, he said. Asking to see the source code seems perfectly valid.

Re:Sorry But (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832689)

The point you are missing is that you can refuse to take a breathalizer and you are automatically guilty of being drunk. I'm sorry that is against my rights. I do not want my privacy violated because i'm driving down a major road. So if I say no, I do not wish to be tested and my time wasted, I lose my drivers license.

Then, how does a police officer's word mean more than a citizen's? If there is no other evidence except the officer saying "i smelled beer all over the car", you can lose your license. A bit draconian, don't you think?

I am not in favor of driving drunk, but just like the PATRIOT act, the government gave themselves too much power to combat drunk driving.

A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (3, Insightful)

rob_squared (821479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832261)

I'm still wondering if this is being used as a legalistic loophole or an honest concern about false arrest. I mean, there is a blood test that has been shown to be just as good or better than a breathalizer.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832318)

I'm still wondering if this is being used as a legalistic loophole or an honest concern about false arrest. I mean, there is a blood test that has been shown to be just as good or better than a breathalizer.

A blood test would require either a court order/warrant or permision by the person the blood is to be taken from. Seeing as how this is for drunk drivers, people usually want the results back fairly quickly. Blood tests usually take a while unless you want troopers carrying around a whole lot of needles and test equipment. Even then there are people, like me, who would not be able to physically drive for at least 20 minutes after having blood drawn. Then there are a few other things they could test blood for that people would object to. Some meds can give false positives for illegal drugs.

Currently the only way they can check for blood alcohol levels is throug breath analyzers. Blood is out.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832409)

The blood test is used to backup a failed breath test.
It happens back at the station and has been known to prove the breathtest was incorrect (suck a fishermans friend then drive a bit silly and you will find out for yourself).

See here [ananova.com] for more info.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832629)

I believe the common phrase is, "Blood, breath or urine." At least in California, you have your choice. I think for the blood test they take you to the local ER. The breath test is supposed to be more questionable, and they can't keep a sample. The other two they can keep some for a retest at a later date.

What I've heard is that if you know for certain that you aren't drunk, take the blood test, because it is the most reliable and you can have it re-tested if you don't like the answer. If you aren't sure, take the breath test because it's easier to challenge in court.

(Mod AC Parent Up) and Response (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832696)

What I've heard is that if you know for certain that you aren't drunk, take the blood test, because it is the most reliable and you can have it re-tested if you don't like the answer. If you aren't sure, take the breath test because it's easier to challenge in court.
See, I'd go with the breathalyzer in all cases. It's quicker. If I'm not drunk, I want to get going. I mean, what's a blood test? Half an hour to station or ER, then getting the test taken, then getting back on the road? Heck of a lot time to waste.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832672)

You "can't drive for at least 20 minutes after having blood drawn"... for a blood test ? Where do you live ? Transylvania ?

Personally, if a breath analysers says I'm drunk, you can be sure I will demand a blood test.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832376)

I'm still wondering if this is being used as a legalistic loophole or an honest concern about false arrest.

Does the motive matter? Even if the current defendent is as guilty as sin, that doesn't mean someone else hasn't been erroneously convicted due to "false testimony" by a buggy breathlyzer.

If the end result is less errors with breathlyzers and all the other "magic boxes" that are used to convict people, then isn't that the best result for society in the long run?

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (0, Troll)

Zero to Hero (892254) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832402)

There's one way to find out. If this guy kills somebody while driving drunk anytime in the future then execute his lawyer.

Seems like we find ourselves a long way from making sure people are only punished for the crimes they've committed and their sentences are just.

We've got a huge problem here in New Mexico where we have some folks (both men and women) with anywhere from 14 to 20 convictions of driving while intoxicated. All the politicians talk tough, but the drunks are still out there driving. One lady decided she was too drunk to drive so she let her 10 year old daughter drive her home. The daughter was doing great until she drove the car through a brick wall fence.

I say cane the SOB until he cries like a school girl.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (3, Insightful)

Mnemia (218659) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832451)

Even if it is a legalistic loophole, it still accomplishes something good, which is that it forces the justice system to only use scientifically verifiable means to judge guilt and innocence. In the end, this will ensure that more guilty drunk drivers get convicted and fewer innocent people are falsly convicted.

They should be forced to use ONLY tests which can be proven to be statistically accurate and not just by marketing materials produced by the people selling them. This means blood only for *BAC*. Unless you measure BAC directly, it's just an estimate - and one that is only accurate in some people. They should have zero right to convict people on the flimsy evidence they have from these machines. The companies who make the machines have a vested interest in rigging the accuracy tests.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832480)

Sorry, but your BAC is merely an approximation to the *real* BAC: Brain Alcohol Content. Nothing less than scooping the driver's brain out to measure alcohol content will suffice as far as I'm concerned.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832645)

Even that wouldn't be enough. Some people are biologically insensitive to some drugs, so even the drugs presence in the brain is no proof that it imparied the person's driving, or had any effect on them whatsoever.

Re:A cleaver ploy or honest defense? (1)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832582)

I think the question is more, is it a legalist loophole or your basic constitutional right. You have the write to question your accusure. In this case, is a machine and you should have the right to inspect how it works. It would be a very bad precedent to say we can never question the output of any machine. Also if you do a quick google on breathalyzer accuracy, you will find many articles explaining how facters other than alcohol can cause them to give high readings.

Should be more than just source code (5, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832303)

The larger problem here is that a lot of these tools (breathalyzers, RADAR and LIDAR guns, etc) are dealing with ambiguous data in the first place. For example, the algorithm used to determine BAC in a breathalyzer may be implemented correctly, but what if the algorithm itself is wrong? You're dealing with many variables (a person's mass, their metabolism, etc), and those variables have different values for different people. It's well-known, for example, that women will blow higher on a breathalyzer than a man simply because they're generally smaller.

Similarly for LIDAR (laser speed detection), the underlying principle is using distance and time to determine rate. Sounds straightforward, as d = r * t, but how do you know you've got the right values for d? It's been shown that rapid movement of a LIDAR gun can cause even inanimate objects to register a rate. How do we know the LIDAR gun measured the distance your car traveled over a period of time, rather than the distance of your car at one point in time and the distance of some other reflective object (say, a much closer stop sign) at a different point in time? At the distances in question, we're talking sharpshooter skills as a requirement for using a LIDAR gun, but it seems that every cop on the force has one. Can they expect us to believe that every cop is a sharpshooter, or that several cups of coffee won't induce shaking in the cop's hands that could cause false readings?

It's a good precedent, forcing the breathalyzer source to be opened to inspection, but the assumption is still that the underlying algorithm is accurate when it's not. I don't understand why courts continue to rely on technology such as the breathalyzer or the LIDAR gun when there are better, proven tests that could be used instead (blood tests, RADAR or pacing with a calibrated speedometer). Worse, once a court has chosen to allow such evidence (this is not arbitrary, but once the admissability of such a test is challenged and lost it's almost impossible to re-challenge), you can no longer argue that the underlying tool is bad (without extenuating circumstances that would bring the acceptability of such tools back into question). You can argue that the machine wasn't properly calibrated or maintained or that the officer using it was untrained or unqualified or out of practice, but you can't argue that the tool itself is inadmissable as evidence even if the facts are on your side.

That's why... (1)

RandomPrecision (911416) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832347)

...you should make sure your SmartBreathalyzer is running Windows BAC SP2. Windows BAC SP2 fully supports the Male and Female classes, and adjusts predicted intoxication levels based on body mass and metabolism. In addition, Clippy will alert you of any extra factors that may affect the sobriety of the subject.

Re:Should be more than just source code (5, Interesting)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832359)

"The larger problem here is that a lot of these tools (breathalyzers, RADAR and LIDAR guns, etc) are dealing with ambiguous data in the first place. For example, the algorithm used to determine BAC in a breathalyzer may be implemented correctly, but what if the algorithm itself is wrong?"

Heh. I remember reading a story once where a dude challenged a speeding ticket he recieved. He wanted proof that the machine was properly reading the speed of his vehicle. The company that made the radar gun refused to go into detail about how it worked, afterall that's proprietary information they don't want their competitors having. Ultimately the case was thrown out because they brought the radar gun into the court room and clocked a wall travelling at 4mph.

Re:Should be more than just source code (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832539)

Ultimately the case was thrown out because they brought the radar gun into the court room and clocked a wall travelling at 4mph.

That proves the radar gun doesn't accurately measure the speed of stationary objects. That doesn't mean the gun doesn't work accurately for moving objects!

Re:Should be more than just source code (3, Interesting)

Mr. Jaggers (167308) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832653)

Yeah, like doppler radar, for example. A product like Eaton's VORAD is only accurate past ~25 feet, and depends on an object moving within it's range (narrow angle, ten degrees or so). It can look out rather far, but if nothing is moving, it won't pick anything up (like the Tyrannosaurs in Jurassic Park (= ).

I think most police radar guns use a doppler shift technique, so they would need to be pointed at a moving object. However, a quick look at the websites of commercial radar gun companies shows that several are offering "stationary" models. I'm not sure if that means the gun is stationary, or that it rates stationary objects as not moving or, more likely, that the "motion" model/mode claims to clock a vehicle maybe while the detector itself is moving. Who knows?

At any rate, if I was clocked speeding with some newfangled moving radar gun on a busy road from an officer in a patrol car somewhere, I'd be mighty interested in exactly how it purports to pick out my vehicle amongst others, and what guarantee there is that its accuracy matches the manufacturers claims.

Re:Should be more than just source code (2, Interesting)

Barnoid (263111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832604)

Ultimately the case was thrown out because they brought the radar gun into the court room and clocked a wall travelling at 4mph.

That's why the police always uses the formula 'speed = measured speed - 5mph'. Exactly *because* the radar gun has an accuracy +/-5 mph. I wonder what would have happened if the wall would have been measured to go at -4mph?

Re:Should be more than just source code (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832364)

Those factors (mass, metabolism, etc) determine the persons BAC as a function of how many drinks they've had. If the 270-lb guy down the hall drinks three beers, and my pet chihuahua drinks three beers, who's going to have a higher BAC? The dog, of course. He'll also be more drunk. The point of these tests isn't to determine how many a person has had, but rather how drunk they are; this is perfectly fair. That said, wouldn't releasing the code also involve the algorithm?

Re:Should be more than just source code (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832440)

In the case of the breathalyzer, it is much more convenient and portable than any blood test (that I know of). What we need is something akin to a glucose meter for testing BAC.

I think the breathalyzer is a fine tool. That said, if you test someone with it and arrest them, I think the first thing the police should do is take a blood sample. This would prevent this argument, because we would know for sure if the person was legally drunk or not.

As for the LIDAR gun, I would hope they would have some kind of correction (for example, an internal accelerometer which could be used to factor out movement of the gun). But I guess that would be one good reason to "open" the device. Then such an issue could be argued easier, and a conclusion reached.

Re:Should be more than just source code (4, Interesting)

Husgaard (858362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832444)

In Denmark where I live, the police wanted to start using breath analyzers to prove intoxication to the court in DUI cases a few years back instead of the blood test that they have been using for years. After some public debate that project was stopped after some experts concluded that breath analyzers were not always completely accurate. Today only blood tests are used.

But here laser speed detection is widespread to catch speeders, and a very special court case comes to mind: The defendant was accused of speeding in a rural area at a speed nearly physical impossible at the place where his speed was measured with a laser. The police refused to give out any information on the device used, except for the brand and the model. The defence got hold of a copy of the operations manual for the device from an unknown source, and the police had to confirm to the court that it was the operations manual for the device used. The defendant was aquitted because the defence could show that the policeman didn't know about the warnings about reflections in the manual and the he had used it in a way that could give false results. Without the manual the defendent would have been falsely convicted.

Re:Should be more than just source code (1)

g_attrill (203506) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832507)

There is currently a lot of debate in the UK about the error tolerance of a certain type of LIDAR gun - the LTI 20-20. The importer claimed that it was incapable of producing erroneous readings on a moving object but a US-spec device was shown to produce an incorrect high reading by sweeping it along the side of a moving truck. The UK importer then said that the US spec device was different (inferior?) to the UK device used by police, but recent tests have suggested that it is possible to get a UK device to do it too. We have yet to get the courts to force disclosure of a police device for testing, efforts are still ongoing with the hope that a friendly police officer can lend one for testing. Oh, did I forget to mention that the prosecution's expert witnesses are a) the UK importer and supplied to the police, and b) the CTO of the manufacturer? The courts pretty much accept all their statements without question.

For more information see this article [dailymail.co.uk] from the Daily Mail last week (front page article), this page [bbc.co.uk] about a BBC programme (Inside Out) which investigated the issue. Also see PePiPoo.com [pepipoo.com] , a forum where you can read about many ongoing investigations related to speed enforcement, including legal loopholes, faulty signage and information on all types of legal defences.

Gareth

Re:Should be more than just source code (4, Insightful)

oclawgeek (861555) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832522)

Before you consider this, it's necessary to understand that in nearly all, if not all, jurisdictions, there are two ways to be convicted of a DUI: (1) driving under the influence of alcohol; and (2) driving with a blood alcohol content of X. As the defense bar gets better at defending against the junk science promoted by "tough on crime" legislators, the laws grow ever more draconian. In some states, like California, the prosecutor is entitled to take advantage of all sorts of evidentiary presumptions, including the presumption that if your blood alcohol level is at or above 0.08 percent as tested on an approved breath analysis instrument, your blood alcohol content is actually at or above 0.08 percent. These presumptions were necessary at every step, because the defense bar was successful in its efforts to demonstrate for juries how unreliable the "science" of the government really was. When you can't win on facts, change the rules. There are a lot of assumptions to challenge when it comes to breath analysis. The underlying "science" is based on a fifty-year old model of how air interacts with blood and how alcohol in alveolar (so-called "deep lung") air can be measured. The hypothetical "average person" doesn't exist, and these "instruments" are not calibrated to account for all of the variable characteristics of a subject that could affect the blood alcohol content. None of this means anything, though, if the evidentiary presumptions all favor the government. Innocence until guilt is proven is a quaint but outmoded concept now. Due process in DUI cases is little but a legal fiction these days. The lawyers in the current case are arguing not for the public release of code, but for a defendant's right to see whether the machine even handles the junk science properly, and if the companies that make these machine won't produce the records, the defendant will not get a dismissal - the court simply will not allow the jury to hear the evidence of the test results. As a practical matter, without the benefit of those test results, the prosecutor's job is very much more difficult. becuase the jury will then have the opportunity to examine the police officer's role in having performed the field sobriety tests correctly (they often aren't), his bias (e.g., his having decided defendant was "drunk" before even administering the tests) and all of the other issues. In other words, all these defense attorneys are fighting for is a fair trial for the defendant. You can't really call it fair if the defendant isn't allowed to exercise his constitutional right to challenge -all- of the evidence against him, can you?

Re:Should be more than just source code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832662)

These machines are far from perfect. First you have to wait for 30 minutes after having a drink to administer them. How many cops know this. General rule: NEVER blow into one of these things if you have been drinking. In NY you have the option to decline the breathalizer. Then you have two choices, a blood test, which takes place at a later time(more time to sober up), or an automitic 90 licence suspension. If you've had any more than the equivalent of 3 drinks you will be over. If you had a shot on the way out the door and were pulled over 5 minutes later, you will blow a huge number, the alcohol is still in your mouth, and that will affect the reading.

Lidar is another thing. I got a ticket a while back for 90 in a 65. I was in a 1987 VW jetta that was full of stuff, that thing could barely do the speed limit. I was being passed in the right hand lane by a guy who was driving like a complete a&$*(&^. He was driving 50 up hills and 100 down them. They had clocked him and not me. (I got tired of passing him and just stayed in the left lane).

After some serious digging and social engineering I was able to find the degree measurement for the beam of the lidar gun used against me. This was a while ago but I remember that it was in the neighborhood of 4 degrees. I was clocked at 90 from over 1500 feet. Do the math and at that distance the beam is over 15 feet wide. That is an entire lane. Hardly a sniper rifle. I was able to get out of the ticket based on this analysis. They could not prove that it was me that was speeding. The road is only 30 feet wide. But I don't think most people ever bother to look into it. Radar guns have a beam in the neighborhood of 15 degrees, that is huge.

Repeat of the "Geico gun" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832307)

Same thing happened with the laser used for speed detection aka the "Geico Gun" Not specifically with opening the source code but the company could not actually prove it worked and refused to release technical details of how the gun even worked.

http://www.geocities.com/speeding@sbcglobal.net/li darcase.html [geocities.com]
http://www.radardetector.net/viewtopic.php?t=826&s tart=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight= [radardetector.net]

and many more links with Google.

Just because law enforcement is using a tool and has been for years, does not mean that it has been thoughly tested and actually works as claimed. Sure, some of these instances may be lawers trying to argue though a back door but hey, you could also refer to it as a check and balance in the system.

Not Necessarily Open Source (3, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832314)

It's important to remember that visible source code isn't the only requirement for Open Source. For software to be Open Source, it's not only necessary that the source code be available, but also that users are free to modify it and redistribute modified or unmodified copies. There's no real chance that the software in this case will be released under those terms. After all, one of the arguments that the lawyers are using is that the software has been modified without being recertified. It would be much more difficult to ensure that software in use hadn't been modified from a certified version if any user were free to modify it.

Re:Not Necessarily Open Source (2, Funny)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832459)

It's important to remember that visible source code isn't the only requirement for Open Source. For software to be Open Source, it's not only necessary that the source code be available, but also that users are free to modify it and redistribute modified or unmodified copies.

So will we have to add more definitions and acronyms to the software lexicon?

Would source code you're allowed to inspect, but cannot modify, be Published Unmodifiable Source (PUS)?

How about Open Unmodifiable Computing Hardware (OUCH)?

Boolean Logic Open Unmodifiable Source Executable (BLOUSE)?

Suddenly your BLOUSE is filled with PUS...

Okay, let's just forget we went there.

- Greg

Let me get this straight (5, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832329)

You go to a bar. Someone buys you ten beers. So your intoxication was free as in beer. Then you get pulled over and get a breathalyzer test which gets thrown out of court because the software was not free as in speech. So then you walk out of court, free as in Willy!

Re:Let me get this straight (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832427)

In real-life, Keiko (the Orca star of Free Willy) was kept in too small a tank after the movie, suffered crippling injuries and various fungal diseases, then when finally released (after extensive physiotherapy in Oregon) died of pneumonia. You're asking a bit much, if you're wanting Florida to do this to all drunk-drivers - they'd never be able to get hold of enough fungus.

Re:Let me get this straight (1)

Elm Tree (17570) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832599)

This brings about an interesting question. How large are the drunk tanks in Florida? :)

Calibration of Speed Traps (5, Informative)

Burning Plastic (153446) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832369)

One of the easiest ways to get a speeding ticket overturned/dropped (at least in the UK) is to request all of the calibration reports for the particular camera/radar gun used to take your speed.

If the reports cannot be produced or are older/outside the statutory testing period, then the data produced by the machine will not hold up in court, and so the case will be dropped.

In some cases, the police simply cannot be bothered/do not have the time to do all of the necessary paperwork, and so the case may just be forgotten/ignored.

I don't know if this could be applied to a breathalyser, but it would be an interesting to see what would happen...

RADARS! (0, Redundant)

Palal (836081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832385)

They need to do the same with radars!!! People shouldn't have to pay for tickets that are nothing more than racketeering! (Although most tickets are ones that should be paid, sometimes cops are just out to get their bottom line up!). Also, we need a law that makes all government software open-source. For example, I am currently trying to resolve a proprietory issue with RFID cards.

Slippery Slope Guy. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832398)

Sure, today some drunk is trying to get off the hook by saying that the software cannot be verified because it is not open. But tomorrow the gang bangers that raped your daughter will get off scott free because some library used in the DNA analyzing software is closed source and there's not a damn thing you can do about it!

Re:Slippery Slope Guy. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832572)

That's why it's better to get this stuff done right the first time around, so that it doesn't have to get tested in court. Namely that means full public availability of any and all source code used in such devices. The design plans and manuals of the devices should be available to the public. Let it be proven that such devices are sound, and that any updates are sound as well. Let that be done so that if such devices are used in a serious case, as you suggest, then there are no questions about the reliability of such devices.

Re:Slippery Slope Guy. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832574)

the gang bangers that raped your daughter

If the only evidence against them is the output of a black box, then how certain are you that they were the rapists?

Re:Slippery Slope Guy. (1)

edbosanquet (729289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832635)

In the same line of thought, today if you cant verify that the radar gun or breathlizer being used to convit you is accurate tomorrow how will you be able to tell if the DNA being used to convit you of rape is accurate. Certianally, most cops are honest and law abiding but if we take away societys ablity to check these convictions other convictions are soon to follow. Following your line of though we should just take it a gospil everytime an officer walks into a court and says someone is guilty. Why even bother with a trail if an officer thinks someone comitted a crime we should just convit them on that. Better yet just have them disapper in the middle of the night.

I apologize. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832655)

Apparently the joke is too obscure. Doesn't anybody watch Too Late With Adam Carolla?

Re:Slippery Slope Guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832679)

If we can use eminent domain to grab people's land for a private developer (and not just to make way for roads, etc.) for some "fair" price according to the Supreme Court, why on Earth can't we do the same with the copyrights, patents or trade secrets required to make the evidence from these things admissible?

Surely keeping drunk drivers from getting off for lack of evidence (a fair reason, IMHO, though I wish they could be *proven* guilty) is more in the public interest than commercial land development?

Of course, the alternative here would be to choose another vendor for your breathalyzers... one that is willing to comply with these requirements.

Credit Card Transactions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832411)

I actually perform the testing as a member of an external firm on the world's largest credit card transaction processor. While we don't examine the source code, we do perform extended testing of various scenarios by inputting data and verifying the appropriateness of its processing. While this might seem slightly different than testing BAC, I don't see whey you couldn't validate the accuracy of a breathalyzer by taking a blood test on a subject and then validating that it matches the result of the breathalyzer at a given point in time.

code snippet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832426)

with variables like; float pissed pissed = >.09 and float alittletipsy  alittletipsy = <.09 little wonder they don't want it open sourced!

"Convince me" (4, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832481)

Years ago, I was working as a test engineer on a finished product that incorporated a dual-CPU, shared memory design. I was talking to the DUT (Device Under Test) through a serial interface on a (as I recall) 6809, which did the basic control, while a 680x0 (or something similar) did the heavy lifting. I had previously written a "C" standard test API for a single-CPU test interface, which the 6809 implemented in assembly, but large portions of this units functionality were on the 680x0 side of the PC board. Not knowing the 680x0 assembly language, and not having the time, I ended up looking one of the 680x0 device engineers (God, she hated me, but that's another story) in the eye, and saying "Convince me that your stuff does what you say it does...".

I've never forgotten that lesson. If I know what algorithms are, and how they work, and what a particular language can (and can't) do, I can certify a project, based on the look on the programmer's eye when they answer The Questions.

Blood tests? (3, Informative)

csirac (574795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832510)

Here in Australia, the road-side breath test (RBT) just gets you dragged to the police station, where they take a blood sample. It's the blood sample that gets you convicted, not the RBT... additionally, they take two blood samples: one for you, one for them.

Aren't blood samples used in the US? Do you not have that option?

Re:Blood tests? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832525)

Hell, that's just downright EVIL if they're going to use facts and stuff...

Re:Blood tests? (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832579)

Actually I'm pretty sure you can just accept the fine as given by the RBT. But of course then you can't contest it because you've basically waived that right.
Always a better idea to get the bloodtest, hell if it takes 30 mins to get to the police station your BAC may have even dropped a bit.

Re:Blood tests? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832623)

AFAIK (or AFAI remember the experience...) the blood test is optional. You can accepts the bag reading if u like. Why don't we have those hilarious "road side sobriety tests" like the yanks have. They look a hoot!

It varies (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832632)

Remember that states here are somewhat independant and DUI law is largely up to the state. Many, perhaps even all, states will allow a large, more accurate breathilizer to be used as evidence. You are taken to the station and then tested with it. It's cheaper than a blood test, and easier (many people, myself included, hate needles). Now in all the states I know of you can demand a blood sample be taken as well, and your lawyer can have an independant expert examine it. However, I know DUI law for only a couple states, so it may be that's not true in all states. Also, the police usually don't have to tell you that, and if you don't ask you are SOL.

In generaly, we are pretty convict-happy on DUI offences. There are some very effective lobby groups that have convinced the public that DUI is a major, major problem that needs a strict response. The laws have been steadily getting more baised on the prosecution side, where it takes less alcohol in the blood to be considered drunk, and it's harder to challenge the results in court.

Thats why a blood test is more appropriate (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832581)

In Australia the breath test is only used to indicate that a blood test is required, and can't be used to prosecute.

Of course this may give the driver's blood time to fall below the limit, but is far more accurate. To address this, the police sometimes have roadside blood testing vehicles (the booze bus).

Calibration (1)

KidSock (150684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832592)

The accuracy of the device could be easily verified by calibrating w/ blood samples using a mass spectrometer. So unless the code is really bad such that it gives erroneous results 1 in a 1000 trials, I'd say this is a lost cause.

This use to be the case in Pharmacuticals (2, Interesting)

virtualXTC (609488) | more than 8 years ago | (#13832595)

> With software bugs being a fact of life, consumers and organizations could claim that they need to be able to verify an application's source code before they accept that their calculations are accurate

Similarly, back before the Y2K bug was seen as a huge technological burden on companies, the FDA had proposed some regulations regarding drug manufacturing / quality control that required the process to be fully reviewable during an FDA inspection. As usual the regulation was intentionally vague as to allow for interpretation where deemed appropriate. I was lucky enough to be working for very compliant and thus, proactive company (now BMS) and got to see how things ideally could be in the pharmaceutical industry: The original guidance given by the agency seemed to require that all equipment and devices have least have some sort of documentation from the vendor saying that they would allow the FDA to look at their source code. It was a MAJOR pain to get companies to agree to such things (as they didn't wanna be held liable for poor code) and thus began the notion that OSS would be used if available. In one notable instance, the manufacture of a UV spec waffled until it came time to fax a document assuring the FDA could look if necessary. Our company ended up returning the whole unit and ordering a different brand. If it weren't for the Y2K worries already burdening the industry, it likely would of turned out that the whole industry would have had to work on VALIDATED and open software -- too bad :(

This is stupid - Trade Secrets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13832658)

Why can't these companies simply show the statistical data from tests.
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