CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, October 8, 2007

Defense Attorneys Move to Dismiss DUIs Due to Washington Lab Misconduct

From Defense attorneys will start arguing next week to dismiss hundreds of drunken-driving cases across Washington based on what they allege is a pattern of misconduct and incompetence at the state toxicology lab.

Already, 36 people arrested on suspicion of DUI had their licenses reinstated last month, after several Department of Licensing hearing examiners expressed a lack of confidence in the Seattle lab's test results.

One examiner allowed a 49-year-old Puyallup man to keep his license, despite a second DUI arrest five days before his hearing. A 50-year-old Yakima County woman with a prior DUI also got to keep driving.

A flurry of motions to dismiss pending criminal cases or suppress breath-test results have been filed after the resignation of lab manager Ann Marie Gordon in July amid allegations that she signed false statements about her work.

And the recent discovery of a two-year error in the way the lab calibrated its breath-test machines, which slightly skewed some results, has added new complaints.

State officials, however, said Wednesday that the calibration error significantly affected only eight DUI cases and has no bearing on the overall accuracy of breath tests.

"We still have confidence in our test results," said Jeff DeVere, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, which oversees the lab.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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