After Drunk Drivers Appeal, Supreme Court Confirms Breathalyzer Test Is Reliable

Thirteen drivers appealed against accuracy of the 'Yanshuf,' used by Israel Police to check alcohol levels in drivers.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the appeals of 13 drivers convicted of drunk driving, who claimed that the device used for checking alcohol levels in drivers in Israel is not accurate.

The test is conducted by having drivers exhale into a breathalyzer, called "the Yanshuf," and then measuring the percentage of alcohol in the exhaled air.

The court ruled that the Yanshuf is reliable, and that the results of the breathalyzer test are valid.

The 13 appellants attacked the calibration of the device, designed to ensure that the results that appear on the device accurately reflect the concentration of alcohol found in the air exhaled into them. The Yanshuf is calibrated by comparing the concentration of alcohol in the exhaled air with air stored in a gas container used as a standard. The device is calibrated in a police laboratory once every few months.

In the past various courts have ruled that the Yanshuf is accurate of the Yanshuf, and this has been confirmed in the context of judicial decisions.

The appellants claimed, however, that because the gas containers used for calibration and verification are manufactured in a plant in England, they arrive with documentation that spells out the concentration of alcohol found in each of the containers. They claimed that this documentation is nothing more than hearsay, and therefore it cannot be used to prove the accuracy of the breathalyzer.

Former Deputy Supreme Court President, retired Justice Eliezer Rivlin, who was joined by Justices Salim Jubran and Uzi Fogelman, ruled that the devices used for estimating the alcohol levels in the blood of the 13 appellants were checked, calibrated according to the calibration container, and afterwards measured regularly in comparison to the standard gas container.

Rivlin added that the manufacturing process of the gas containers is reliable, and that this is proven by standardized certification, the presentation of which was approved with the specific permission of the district court. Rivlin also noted testimony heard during previous court procedures, which did not refute the reliability of the test with the breathalyzer device.

In addition, Rivlin noted that an opinion submitted by the prosecution over the reliability of the manufacture of the calibration containers had not been refuted, and that there is additional evidence that reinforces the assumption of the accuracy of the gas containers.

Read this article in Hebrew