DWI charges? "Show me the breathalyzer’s source code!"

August 9, 2007

Man convicted of DWI: "Show me the source code!" Dale Lee Underdahl, Minnesota, was arrested in early 2006 for driving while intoxicated. However, what should have been a open and shut case, considering the man failed a breath test, has turned into a slew of legal/technical jargon that has held up his case in court, and may possibly lead him to a lesser conviction, if any at all.

According to Twincities, Underdahl’s breathalyzer was administered using an Intoxilyzer 5000EN (shown) in 2006, but Underdahl refuses to admit that there was any wrongdoing and is challenging the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN.

Underdahl’s lawyer requested to see the source code of the breathalyzer for analysis, to determine the accuracy of the machine. However, the Department of Public Safety claims it has no access to the source code, and that it’s property of the Intoxilyzer’s manufacturer, CMI Inc.

But Dakota County District Judge, Richard Spicer, said the state does own part of the source code for the Minnesota model of the Intoxilyzer; only, no one is able to produce it.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that Underdahl does have a right to view the machine’s source code, and the device’s manufacturer simply refuses to give up that information.

In a statement posted on Twincities:

“That’s the gist of the decision, that it’s discoverable,” said Underdahl’s attorney, Jeffrey Sheridan, of Eagan. “The problem is, the manufacturer of the thing thinks they can hold it back and not tell anybody how it works. For all we know, it’s a random number generator.”

It would be hard to believe that a device that police have been using for many, many years is simply an electronic device to backup a policeman’s opinion; although, when a State Supreme Court can’t come up with the source code for a device its law enforcers use on a daily basis, one has to wonder.

CMI, the device’s manufacturer, in a contract with Minnesota, states that it will provide an attorney with any information the courts may need; yet, CMI has not yet complied.

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3 Responses to “DWI charges? "Show me the breathalyzer’s source code!"”

  1. geral:

    Interesting story. But lets take the concept of the event a little higher. What if CMI is Microsoft, breathalyzer is Windows Vista, software forensic expert found stored information from Vista as evidence of wrongdoing and Underdahl refuses to admit that there was any wrongdoing, would the Supreme Court rule that Underdahl does have a right to view Windows Vista code?

  2. contractually yours:

    If MS signed a contract with the State of Minnesota granting it access to the source code if ordered to do so by a court (which the contract in this case states), then MS would be in breach of contract to not provide the code.MS, or SMI in this case, should read the contract before signing!

  3. Marianna @ Minnesota 4G Wireless:

    Hi, just doing some research for my Minnesota 4g website. Truly more information that you can imagine on the web. Looking for something else, but good site. Have a nice day.

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