Recent data released by officials at the University of Minnesota reveal that the school has seen a fairly significant rise in the number of drunk driving incidents, something that many at the school actually view as a good thing.
Historically, the school saw an average of 187 DUI arrests each year on campus. This number stayed consistent from 2000 through 2006. It was only after 2006 that the numbers began to fall, fairly dramatically. The decline was so steep that in 2011 the school only had 40 DUI arrests.
This year the number of arrests is on track to return to the levels previously seen in the early 2000s. In fact, the number of DUI arrests had already topped 40, the total for all of last year, by July of this year.
Officials with the school say the reason for the recent decline has nothing to do with people behaving more responsibly with alcohol; it was instead a matter of limited resources the school had to combat drunk driving. One official said the problem could be boiled down to one issue: legal challenges over the Intoxilyzer 5000.
As we’ve discussed before, the Intoxilyzer 5000 was part of a series of thousands of court challenges across the state as defense attorneys argued the device and it’s underlying software was unreliable. Courts were inundated with challenges about the validity of the tests and it wasn’t until this summer that the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling clarifying that the results of the Intoxilyzer ought to be considered dependable.
Given the challenges over the device’s reliability, the school was forced to take the additional steps of driving anyone suspected of drunk driving to a hospital to get either a blood or urine test to confirm their alcohol concentration. With a limited budget and a small police force, this time consuming process meant there were much more limited opportunities for campus police to find and detain other suspected drunk drivers.
Things have begun to change now that the school purchased new equipment for testing suspected drunk drivers. Given the trouble surrounding the Intoxilyzer, Minnesota officials had already ordered police departments across the state to phase out the device in favor of a newer and supposedly more reliable model. University of Minnesota officials did just that, purchasing several BAC DataMaster testing devices. The use of the new DataMaster instruments have led to a noticeable increase in the number of drunkdriving arrests on campus, a trend that many expect to continue. The hope is that these new devices are not found to have issues similar to those on display in the Intoxilyzer series. Only time will tell if that holds true.
However, with regard to any type of testing method as it relates to determining an individual’s blood alcohol concentration, it is important that someone charged with a DWI offense consults with a criminal attorney to review the testing procedures and potential challenges to the reliability of the test.