MN DWI Cases Jeopardized After “Intoxilyzer” Ruling


Minnesota may be forced to drop thousands of driving-while-impaired cases and change the way it prosecutes others after the state Supreme Court ruled that defendants have the right to make prosecutors turn over the computer “source code” that runs the Intoxilyzer breath-testing device to determine whether its results are reliable, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Prosecutors can’t turn over the code because they don’t have it. The Kentucky company that makes the Intoxilyzer says the code is a trade secret and has refused to release it.

Law enforcement officers can still have a motorist’s blood-alcohol level determined through blood tests or urinalysis, but that option comes with a pricey, time-consuming caveat: Most of those tests are done only in the lab run by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul. The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is the standard device used by Minnesota police to determine if a driver is impaired. The device is used with nearly eight of every 10 suspected drunken drivers who are tested in Minnesota. Defense attorneys have argued that if they can’t examine the source code, the computer program that runs the machine, they have no way to tell if the Intoxilyzer is reliable

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