The Minnesota Supreme Court just released its decision on whether DWI breath-testing results are valid. In a split 4-3 decision, the court upheld their reliability, agreeing that while the source code for the Intoxilyzer 5000EN may contain some errors, its accuracy is not affected.
Associate Justice Alan Page wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing the decision “effectively eliminates the accused’s opportunity to challenge the results” of Intoxilyzer results.
According to FOX 9 about 4,000 to 6,000 cases were awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling, and can now return to their respective counties for proceedings.
SUMMARY OF SUPREME COURT RULING
- The district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellants’ motion to exclude all test results produced by the Intoxilyzer 5000EN in their individual trials or hearings because, at an evidentiary hearing held in accordance with Minn. R. Evid. 104, the government established by a preponderance of the evidence that Intoxilyzer 5000EN instruments that report a numerical value for measured breath alcohol are reliable and unaffected by alleged source code errors.
- The district court did not violate appellants’ due process and fair trial rights when it made a pretrial determination that evidence relating to the source code defects alleged at the evidentiary hearing would not be allowed in their individual trials or hearings if the Intoxilyzer 5000EN instrument reported a numerical value for measured breath alcohol.
- The district court did not abuse its discretion when, in accordance with Minn. R. Evid. 104, it made a pretrial determination that Intoxilyzer 5000EN instruments that report a deficient breath sample while running the 75-0240 version of the source code are unreliable unless there is other evidence or observations that demonstrate the deficient sample was not the result of a source code error.
DWI defense attorneys had challenged the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN tests stating its technology is out of date. The Minnesota BCA stood behind the Intoxilyzer’s accuracy, but some police agencies have since moved toward blood and urine tests instead of breath tests.
Last year, District Court Judge Jerome Abrams ruled its results “are reliable and unaffected by actual or alleged problems with the source code of the instrument.”
The lower court did rule, however, that cases in which the Intoxilyzer 5000EN running the 240 software version reported a deficient sample, the source code does impact the reliability of the result. Evidence in such cases should also not be allowed unless other evidence exists providing reasons of testing that support a deficient sample.
The deficient sample issue affected fewer than one percent of the tests.
If you are cited or arrested remember you can always contact the Flanagan Law Office, in Hugo, Minnesota, to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation and to learn more information about your rights.
You can call our office anytime: (651) 200-3484.