MN DWI Testing Unreliable
Breath Tests Unrealiable New York Times Reports
Recently, the New York Times printed an article on the reliability of breath testing for alcohol, â€śThese Machines Can Put You in Jail. Donâ€™t Trust Them.â€ť
Since the story was published, many have asked whether there are any pending breath test challenges in Minnesota similar to those mentioned in the article.
Breath test machines used to test drivers suspected of DWI vary from state to state, as do crime labs and courts. Under Minnesota law, breath test machines are approved pursuant to administrative rule by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Minnesota courts have consistently deferred to these rules, and the state legislature has even passed a law requiring courts to admit breath test results into evidence, so long as they were obtained using BCA-approved machines and procedures. There has never been an appellate case in Minnesota where the results of a breath test approved by the BCA were thrown out on scientific grounds.
Several years ago, Halberg Criminal Defense joined a group of Minnesota defense attorneys in a lawsuit to obtain the computer source code from the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 5000, the breath testing machine approved for use by the BCA at the time.
Even after the source code was examinedby defense experts and errors were detected, in a 4-3 decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the admissibility of the Intoxilyzer 5000 machines and the subsequent test results for use in criminal trials and implied consent license review hearings.
The Times article briefly mentioned that more recently certain breath test results in Minnesota have been successfully challenged in cases where breath test results were found to be â€śrounded upâ€ť on the Data Master DMT (the machine that replaced the Intoxilyzer 5000).
However, this challenge is quite limited and only applies to specific fact situations involving breath tests at or just over .08 or .16, which represent the thresholds of legal impairment and aggravated consequences for having an alcohol concentration double the legal limit.
While the article does mention the most recent breath test challenges from Minnesota to make a point about the accuracy of the machines used for breath tests overall, it is not something that can be argued in the vast majority of cases. Additionally, this litigation is ongoing and has yet to reach the appellate courts.
So, unfortunately, unless a sweeping miscalibration of machines is discovered, or massive crime lab fraud similar to that which allegedly occurred in New Jersey and Massachusetts, Minnesota courts are likely to continue upholding the accuracy of breath tests.
If you find yourself facing DWI, OWI or other Impaired Driving charges involving a breath, blood or urine test you need to explore your options to protect yourself and save your driving privileges. You need a criminal defense attorney with deep legal knowledge and a willingness to fight for you. At Halberg Criminal Defense, our team approach puts the firmâ€™s collective legal knowledge and experience in your court. Our attorneys are available 24-7 â€” Call us at 612-DEFENSE (612-333-3673).