The Florida Department of Law Enforcement spent $330 back in October on Jim Beam whiskey, mixers and some Doritos. Fifteen employees then proceeded to get drunk on company time. Sounds like the makings of an office party, no? Not so much. The ill advised plan was part of a makeshift study to defend possibly faulty breathalyzers, and the results may not even hold up in court.
The Intoxilyzer 8000 is a common breath test machine used to help convict drunk drivers across the state, but the accuracy has come under fire as of late and court challenges have followed. So far about 100 DUI cases in Sarasota and Manatee counties have been thrown out as a result of a story published in October in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that showed faulty machines that provided impossible results were still being used.
The FDLE needed evidence to present at a hearing to defend the machine's accuracy, so that's when they decided to let their employees get their drink on. The party of sorts was videotaped, and after drinking the employees blew into the machines. Blood work was sent to a lab to verify the results.
The FDLE's alcohol testing "guru," Laura Barfield then presented the results, or at least some of them, to a panel of Sarasota judges in December. Though, at the time the results of the blood tests had not yet come back from the lab, and the judges seemed skeptical of trusting such a makeshift "study."
Statistics experts say there are concerns about how the study was conducted, whether it has any scientific validity, or whether it proves what it intended to.
"That doesn't really address the problem," said Dr. John Robinson, a biostatistics consultant with expertise in health care. "It's only performed at one time, with a small group of people."
But, hey, sure sounds like those employees had fun getting wasted on the taxpayers' dime.
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