The Star Tribune reports the judge found the computer code used in the machine contains errors, but that the errors do not “materially impair accuracy, validity or reliability of the results.” As far away as Florida, defense lawyers are fighting for access to the computer code used to operate breathalyzer equipment, arguing that withholding such information amounts to limiting a defendant’s rights to confront his accuser.
With each passing year, it seems authorities in Minnesota and elsewhere are toughening the rules for being convicted of drunk driving. Amid talk of lowering the threshold for charges, advances in new technology and the increasingly negative stigma associated with drunk driving in the workplace, a DWI charge has become a serious criminal charge. Recently on our Minnesota Criminal Law Blog, we wrote about a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the federal government, which could ultimately make breathalyzers standard equipment in new vehicles.
A DWI defense attorney in Minneapolis or St. Paul should always be called in to contest drunk driving charges. In addition to the results of breathalyzer examinations, an experienced lawyer may be able to challenge probable cause for the traffic stop or the administration of field sobriety or breathalyzer tests. The training or qualification of the officers involved may also be a valid issue in challenging a client’s stop or arrest. The truth of the matter is that a significant number of DWI charges in Minnesota are dropped or dismissed each year. The tiered nature of the state’s drunk driving laws ensures that a motorist will face more serious consequences in the unfortunate event that he or she is cited for a future offense — another reason fighting to keep a charge off your criminal record is your best option.
The opinion issued by Judge Jerome Abrams is the latest ruling in a five-year legal battle. In the wake of numerous arguments raised by defense attorneys, the state is phasing out the use of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN. The state uses 264 of the breathalyzer machines. The Kentucky-based manufacturer of the machine had refused to release the source code to defense lawyers who demanded it. A court settlement resulted in the release of the code.
The judge found the machine reliable, but said it was “severely challenged” by its limited ability to process data. Since the court challenges, a number of jurisdictions have switched to blood or urine tests. The state is retiring the machine in favor of a new breathalyzer, the Datamaster DMT breath testing machine.
Charged with drunk driving in the Twin Cities? Call the Kans Law Firm, LLC at (888) 972-6060 for a free case review