Forgery Charge Could Endanger CO DUI Cases

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Colorado lawyers specializing in drunken-driving cases are questioning the validity of thousands of convictions after a technician who certified the state’s breath-test machines said his signature was forged on more than 100 records in 2013, the Denver Post reports. In addition, a former laboratory director’s signature is still being used on certificates more than a year after she left the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in July 2015. Those certificates are being used in DUI trials to prove machines were recording accurate blood-alcohol content. “This is the lab we’re asking to go into court and testify to the veracity of their machines,” said Darren Cantor, president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. “It really makes me question whether the [state] capable of doing that.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper rejected a call from the defense bar for an independent investigation into the certification process used for every breath test machine in the state. The governor’s legal counsel said a thorough review already has been done, and no evidence of misconduct was found. The certifications are important to DUI suspects and their attorneys because prosecutors, judges and juries rely heavily on the results of alcohol breath tests when weighing verdicts and punishments. Under state law, no expert is required to testify about a breath-test machine’s accuracy, so the certificates are the sole proof used in a trial to show that a machine is working properly. “These are the machines prosecutors are using to convict people in court,” said Sarah Schielke of the Life and Liberty Law Office. “They say they are scientific and reliable.”

 

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