This October Judge Jerome Abrams of Scott County will begin hearing arguments on the validity of the breath tests administered by police to measure blood alcohol content of suspected DWI offenders. Over 3,000 Minnesota DWI cases spanning the last 30 months have been placed in limbo until the validity of the instrument’s software source code is determined.
The machine in question is the Intoxilyzer 5000EN, a breath test administered by police at the stations to measure individuals’ blood alcohol content (BAC). Over the past few years, the accuracy of the breath test has been under debate. Discrepancies in the code could lead to inaccurately high BAC readings.
Attorneys, representing individuals charged with DWI’s based on Intoxilyzer measurements, are arguing that this discrepancy has led to wrongful and more severe DWI charges.
For criminal defense attorneys and those who have been charged with DWI’s alike, the prolonged resolution of this case is discouraging. Since the code was first disputed back in 2008, defense attorneys throughout Minnesota have petitioned DWI cases leaving many clients in a state of uncertainty and anxiously awaiting the outcomes of their cases.
What will the resolution mean for those who have been charged with DWI’s? If Judge Abrams rules the Intoxilyzer readings unreliable, the result is unknown. Even if the breath tests are found to be inaccurate under his ruling, the pending cases will not necessarily be dismissed; however, the defense attorneys will have grounds to argue their clients’ cases dropped or—at least—charges reduced.
If the Intoxilyzer’s code is ruled accurate and reliable, each of the 3000 pending DWI cases will move forward as normal with the original charges.