Let me begin by saying that drunk drivers must be punished as a deterrent to ensure that we keep our highways safe for the rest of us.
But do you believe that it's okay to convict otherwise innocent drivers of this politically incorrect crime?
Welcome to the modern age of DUI prosecution in the Buckeye state.
Ohio recently spent over $6 million to install brand-new portable breath testing devices at police departments throughout the state.
The Ohio Department of Health has determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000 be the only alcohol testing machine used throughout our state in order to provide uniformity in the treatment of those suspected of driving while impaired.
Here's the problem.
It turns out that the Intoxilyzer 8000 is a piece of junk.
The state of Minnesota sued the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 8000 because the machine's creator refused to disclose its software source code to allow the state to properly evaluate the accuracy of this device.
In Florida, DUI cases are thrown out on a regular basis due to the inaccuracy of the test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000. The state of Arizona has experienced the same miserable results.
In the state of Tennessee, a task force determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000 did not yield satisfactory results to determine blood alcohol levels. Tennessee won't touch this Rube Goldberg product.
Right here in Ohio Municipal Court Judge Gary Dumm ruled that test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000 will not be admitted in his court until the State of Ohio can present scientific proof of its reliability.
Athens County Judge William Grimm also expressed concerns about the way that smart phone and radio interference distorts the accuracy of Intoxilyzer 8000 readouts.
As if this were not bad enough, the Ohio Department of Health recently expressed in its own website that "no warranties, expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, reliability or suitability" of data obtained from the Intoxilyzer 8000 can be made by the State of Ohio.
If the state of Ohio is unwilling to rely on the Intoxilyzer 8000 results, should they be sufficient to send you or a loved one to jail?
Here's the real kicker.
When the Ohio Department of Health was in the process of choosing a new testing device for purchase by the taxpayers, Dean Ward served as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Testing for the State of Ohio.
Mr. Ward recommended the Intoxilyzer 8000 and millions of taxpayer dollars were expended for the purchase of these useless machines.
The manufacturer, a company called CMI in Owensboro, Kentucky was very happy to win the Ohio contract.
Dean Ward then left his job at the Ohio Department of Health and 13 months later found a terrific new position in the private sector.
His new employer?
You guessed it. Dean Ward is the new Director of East Coast Sales for CMI.
Now I must disclose that as a lawyer I have both prosecuted and defended DUI cases.
I want our streets to be safe from people that turn automobiles into weapons of mass destruction when they get behind the wheel having had one too many.
But we can never accept the idea that justice must be sacrificed at the altar of technology so flawed that entire states and municipal courts refuse to accept the results of that technology.
Especially when that technology has been chosen from a process tainted by the implication of corruption.
Have another cup of black coffee, Ohio.
By the time we learn the whole truth regarding this controversy, you're gonna have a hangover.
Or at least Dean Ward has a machine that says you will.