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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The appellant pled guilty to and was convicted of the misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated. He was sentenced to 150 days in jail, probated for twelve months, and a fine of $500. Before his plea, the appellant filed several pretrial motions seeking to ascertain whether the state would be permitted to introduce evidence of the breath test results. At a hearing on those motions, it was established that the arresting officer who administered the test, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Michael Parker, was a certified Intoxilyzer 5000 operator. It was also established that he had little or no understanding of the scientific principles behind the machine. The state was able to produce another witness, however, who was a certified technical supervisor for the Intoxilyzer 5000 and was responsible for overseeing the particular Intoxilyzer 5000 that Parker operated. She was familiar with the science and technology upon which it is based and had firsthand knowledge that it was maintained and in good working order on the date Parker used it to test the appellant. The trial court ruled that the breath test results would be admissible at trial. With that understanding, the appellant later entered a guilty plea, subject to an appeal of the trial court’s pretrial ruling. On appeal to the Amarillo Court of Appeals, the appellant challenged the trial court’s pretrial ruling that, had the case gone to trial, the state would have been permitted to introduce evidence that the results of a breath test showed him to have a blood-alcohol level double the legal concentration sufficient to support a conviction. The appellant argued that the test results were inadmissible because the state was unable to show that the state trooper who conducted it was familiar with the science and technology that underlie the test. In a published opinion, the court of appeals rejected this argument. The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) granted the appellant’s petition for discretionary review to examine this holding, which the appellant contended was in conflict with this court’s precedents. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court held that when evidence of alcohol concentration as shown by the results of analysis of breath specimens taken at the request or order of a peace officer is offered in the trial of a DWI offense, 1. The underlying scientific theory has been determined by the legislature to be valid; 2. The technique applying the theory has been determined by the legislature to be valid when the specimen was taken and analyzed by individuals who are certified by, and were using methods approved by the rules of, DPS; and 3. The trial court must determine whether the technique was properly applied in accordance with the department’s rules, on the occasion in question. Thus, the court stated, in a hearing at which the results of a breath test are challenged, all the trial court need do to satisfy its gate-keeping function is to determine whether the technique was properly applied in accordance with the rules of DPS on the particular occasion in question. As long as the operator knows the protocol involved in administering the test and can testify that he followed it on the occasion in question, the court stated, he need not also demonstrate any personal familiarity with the underlying science and technology. OPINION:Price, J.

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