DUI / DWI, Minority Issues

Racist Breathalyzer?

Breathalyzer.JPGAccording to Connecticut DUI lawyer James O. Ruane, I can’t breathe as well as white people. Based on this “analysis” Ruane has determined that the breathalyzer is a racist device.

Really. I’m not making that up. Ruane represents a black man who got busted for drunk driving:

A breath analysis administered at state police Troop G in Bridgeport found Brown had a blood-alcohol content of 0.188. The legal limit is 0.08.

In a motion filed Tuesday in Superior Court, Ruane asked a judge to suppress his client’s breathalyzer test results, contending the device used by the state police, and most other local police departments, the Intoxilyzer 5000, discriminates against blacks. Brown is an African-American.

I’m all for zealous defense of your clients, but I don’t see why you have to insult thinking people of all colors to make that defense. But Ruane argued:

[T]he lung capacity of a black man is 3 percent smaller than a white man and, therefore, black men’s test results vary from the sobriety standard set by the device.

He said Dr. Michael Hlastala, a lung physiologist at the University of Washington, examined research of other lung physiologists and, based on his studies, has determined the Intoxilyzer 5000 does not effectively test the blood-alcohol content of black men.

“He looked at all the research and came up with the bigger picture and found the common thread,” he said.

Mmm … blanket generalizations about an entire people. I wonder what Michael Jordan’s lung capacity is as compared to Alan Dershowitz?

Ruane gets more crazy after the jump.


Ruane wanted to make sure that there was no race-card left un-played:

“They are KKK in a box,” said lawyer James O. Ruane of Shelton. “We really have some racist machines here.”

“Racist machines?” Somebody needs to cancel Ruane’s subscription to the SciFi channel and hand him a high-school science textbook. Unless somebody gets this man some education the next time a black man fails a field sobriety test, we’re going to be hearing about how black people are more “geotropic” than whites.

It’s really hard to convince people that actions or thoughts or “tests” they have come to rely on and accept are prejudiced in any way. But Ruane isn’t really helping anybody when he equates sobriety test with the Klan, and he’s not helping anybody when he uses crackpot science as evidence that black people “can’t breathe too good.”

There are some real battles to fight, this isn’t one of them.

Is the Breathalyzer Racist? [A Public Defender]

Lawyer: Alcohol testing device is racist [Connecticut Post]

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