Archive for July, 2016

You May Be Able to Challenge Scientific Evidence in a First Offense DWI

20
Jul
By:

Many people arrested for a first offense DWI mistakenly believe when scientific testing has occurred that it will be difficult or impossible to get an acquittal. The reality is those who conduct the tests are not infallible and mistakes happen regularly. If you can successfully get a jury to have any reasonable doubt about the quality of toxicology testing or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing, you may be able to avoid a guilty verdict. breathalyzer-1240974

Challenging Scientific Evidence in a First Offense DWI Case

Recently, evidence of problems with the work performed by one Texas official illustrated how unreliable scientific testing can sometimes be in DWI cases. ABC 13 reported dozens of DWI cases are at risk because of the poor work performed by the DWI breath test technical supervisor at one Texas police department.

The DWI breath test supervisor was responsible for overseeing all tests conducted on breath test machines, including the Intoxilyzer 5000. When breath test results were introduced in drunk driving cases, her technical expertise was highlighted by the prosecuting attorney and she often appeared in court to provide testimony. Unfortunately, many DUI defense attorneys began to notice serious problems with her work, though it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what the issues were or prove what errors she was making.

An internal investigation has now demonstrated her expertise was virtually non-existent and the “science” behind her supervision of breath tests was nothing more than junk science. The internal investigation into her work resulted in her termination because of a wide variety of performance issues.

ABC 13 obtained documents from the Internal Affairs investigation, in which one of her supervisors noted her work was so poorly done it was a “ticking time bomb.” Because many different departments contracted with her PD for its breath alcohol work, the internal affairs documents indicated the substandard quality of her work “could jeopardize nine police agencies in four different counties” and could “jeopardize the integrity of the entire program.” The department became aware of her performance issues at least as far back as 2014, and she was suspended at least once in 2015, but remained in her supervisory role until recently.

The fact she was able to continue working for two years despite known issues with her job performance illustrates there are lapses in the system designed to ensure the accuracy of breath tests. If a breath test or other chemical test is to be used against a drunk driving defendant, it needs to be 100 percent accurate and the process should be supervised by someone with actual credentials and experience. Whenever test results fall short of providing sufficient proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a defendant’s guilt in a DWI case, the defendant who has been accused of drunk driving based on a high BAC test should be acquitted of the charges.