• Stephen Biss

Reliability: 5000 64- Diagnostics in 2015

This is the same 5000 64 series instrument discussed in the prior blog entry of June 16, 2015. This instrument has received no maintenance or factory service, except WD40 lubrication of the printer roller by this author, since the 2009 videos. These videos depict "Passed" Diagnostics. Should these Diagnostics be preferred to the ones in 2009 because they are more recent, even though the instrument has received no maintenance yet failed so miserably in 2009? Note: The date shown on the display is not reliable. These videos were uploaded to Youtube in 2009.

Video of diagnostics on a cold start

Video of Esc Esc D stand-alone Diagnostics. The instrument produces a "Passed" Diagnostics Test Record.

Discussion: Do Intoxilyzer® evidentiary breath instruments mellow and get better with age? Or perhaps the Diagnostics systems themselves age and become less sensitive, less reliable at detecting faults? Can we safely assume that the Diagnostics system itself is reliable and always will be reliable? Maybe self Diagnostics systems themselves need to be annually inspected and compared against known standards of operation and calibration to make sure that they are still in accord with manufacturer's specifications.

Notice the requirements of the ATC 2014 Best Practices Inspection provisions at p. 11:

"All Approved Instruments, Approved Screening Devices and accessory equipment intended for active use in the program shall be individually inspected before being placed into service, and periodically thereafter, to ensure that they initially meet, and continue to meet the manufacturer’s specifications."

Notice the reference at page 12 to Training and manuals:

"The Program Director shall ensure that persons performing preventative maintenance and/or periodic inspections on Approved Instruments, Approved Screening Devices and accessory equipment have: a. Appropriate training in the maintenance of all components of the respective Approved Instruments, Approved Screening Devices and accessory equipment. b. Detailed manuals for the procedures necessary to determine that the Approved Instruments, Approved Screening Devices and accessory equipment are in proper working order and continue to meet the manufacturer’s specifications."

Do "all components" need to be inspected annually to establish that they "continue to meet the manufacturer's specifications"? Does "all components" include the automatic Diagnostics systems themselves?

If self-diagnostics systems are never serviced and inspected against factory standards, how can we rely upon them at time of use? The ATC says "Records relating to periodic maintenance or inspections cannot address the working status of an Approved Instrument at the time of a breath test", but if those periodic maintenance records are not available, how can we rely on the self diagnostics at time of use? It is exactly the maintenance records themselves that afford traceability and therefore reliability of the diagnostics at time of use. Isn't this concept of the necessity of maintenance to reliability at the heart of the decision in St-Onge?

Where is the scientific literature; where is the scientific experimentation; that establishes the ATC hypothesis that self-diagnostics at time of use are always sufficient to establish reliability of all systems? Note the lack of external scientific references in the ATC Position Paper.

When new instruments are being evaluated, the ATC has special requirements for testing of automatic systems. See ATC 2014 Equipment Evaluation Standards page 13. During evaluation the ATC tests these automatic systems. Many automatic systems have thresholds and logarithms wherein an alarm sounds and the instrument shuts down. These are tested and evaluated by the ATC when a new instrument is sent to an ATC scientist for review.

"Additional Testing:If an instrument is equipped to measure sampling parameters, detect mouth alcohol, RFI and/or other disturbances, or actuate any other automated error check(s), the function of these checks shall be investigated. Where third party testing has been performed according to recognized testing standards (e.g. OIML R 126) the results of such testing shall be brought to the attention of the Committee who shall review these results and determine whether further testing is required.If additional testing is required, the evaluator shall provide breath samples to trigger various error messages (e.g. shallow blows, intermittent samples, mouth alcohol, etc.) as deemed necessary to evaluate the sampling parameters. To evaluate instrument response to RFI, this test shall be conducted by transmitting from a portable radio, of the type, power, and frequency used in police operations, approximately one meter from the device while taking a subject test.To account for differences in instrument design, the evaluator will document the testing procedure and subsequent responses either by keeping a copy of the printout or recording that was displayed. These results shall be subject to interpretation by the Committee.The descriptive information provided by the manufacturer shall be reviewed. If specific mention is made of particular sensitivity to compounds including volatile substances other than ethyl alcohol, these shall be tested at concentrations that might reasonably be encountered in a breath sample. If the theory of operation of the instrument suggests potential problems with this standard, the evaluators shall seek comments from other members of the Committee with respect to appropriate tests. Tests shall then be designed by the evaluators to determine if the potential problem substances may contribute to a BAC reading."

It would seem then, that an annual inspection should be done by someone, with the necessary equipment, who can certify that all systems are operating in accordance with factory specifications, including each of these automatic systems. Such annual inspection should be done by the factory or the Canadian Authorized Service Centre. During such inspection the automatic systems can be tested by the same people responsible for calibrating threshold and other values in the first place.

In the absence of such factory authorized annual inspection, it is folly to suggest that automatic systems at time of use will always detect problems with reliability. If true (and the scientific literature is lacking), that proposition could only make sense if "all components" are inspected annually against manufacturer's specifications.

WARNING: You cannot use these videos or this blog discussion in Court. They are NOT EVIDENCE. This discussion is for lawyers only. Only expert opinion and other EVIDENCE can be considered in Court.


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