California lawyersannounce Minnesota dismiss thousands of drunk driving / DWI - driving-while-impaired cases after a state Supreme Court ruling Thursday, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys agreed.
The state's highest court ruled that defendants in drunken-driving cases have the right to make prosecutors turn over the computer "source code" that runs the Intoxilyzer breath-testing device to determine whether the device's results are reliable. Prosecutors have a problem since can't turn over the code because they don't have it.
CMI, the Kentucky company that makes the Intoxilyzer, says the code is a trade secret and has refused to release it, thus complicating Drunk Driving / DWI prosecutions.
It will be harder prosecutors across the state to getting convictions when they can't utilize evidence to show the levels of the defendant's intoxication.
There will be cause significant problems with holding offenders accountable because of this problem of not being able to obtain this source code.
Law enforcement officers can still have a motorist's blood-alcohol level determined through blood tests or urinalysis, but that option comes with a pricey, time-consuming caveat: Most of those tests are done only in the lab run by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul.
Labs are overwhelmed now with their current workload and probably cannot handle doing blood and urinalysis tests in all DWI cases.
There's going to be a lot more blood and urine tests asked for, and that will back up the BCA. They're short-staffed already, and with the budget crisis they've got already, well, that's one of the reasons they wanted to use the Intoxilyzer in the first place. It was inexpensive to use.
Still DWI officials there felt it was too early stop using the Intoxilyzer. But he said the lab would be able to handle the workload if police agencies switched to blood tests and urinalyses.
The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is a standard machine used by Minnesota police to try to determine if a driver is over the legal limit. The state bought 260 of the machines from the manufacturer, CMI, in 1997, and state law presumes the devices' results to be reliable. The machine is used with nearly eight of every 10 suspected drunk drivers who are tested in Minnesota. Defense attorneys have argued that if they can't examine the source code, the computer program that runs the machine, they have no way to tell if the Intoxilyzer is reliable.