Being accused of a DUI can be an extremely confusing time for many people. When police stop motorists, the drivers may be scared and not know what to expect. They trust that the law enforcement officers are following protocol, and will not arrest the drivers unless there is a valid reason to do so.
When charges are filed, motorists have an opportunity to learn about the evidence that prosecutors plan to use to demonstrate impairment. People may be tempted to accept this at face value, and look for a way to make the matter go away as soon as possible. However, not all evidence used in DUI cases may be reliable, as some Colorado drivers are now learning.
In May, The Denver Post reported that the lab that tests DUI samples, which is run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, may have made serious mistakes. This resulted in the retesting of 1,700 samples due to an employee who was not following proper procedures when checking a suspect’s blood-alcohol content (BAC).
Currently, 1,300 samples have been re-examined, with 11 major errors being discovered. Independent consultants have also been analyzing blood samples as well, and some of their results could cast doubt on the information provided by the state’s personnel.
In one case, the reported BAC was over .20, which in many cases would mean that the person convicted would be required to spend time in jail. However, the retest showed a BAC below the .17 limit. In Colorado, drivers stopped with a .17 BAC or above can face more penalties than those who are.08 or higher.
Once the review is complete, the true number of those who received excessive sentences because of the faulty lab work will be known. It may be necessary for those convicted with this evidence to examine the circumstances of their case to understand what options may be available.
Source: Gazette.com “Springs DUI cases impacted by lab errors, lawyers say” Lance Benzel, June 16, 2012.