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Colorado’s free-DUI-testing move questioned, criticized

The thinking of Colorado lawmakers that spurred a recent and material change to the state’s legal blood-alcohol testing regime is clear enough.

But it strongly begs this question: Was it wise?

What became notably different on July 1 was the dramatically liberalized use of BAC-testing facilities at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in Boulder. State regulators opened bureau lab doors to an unprecedented degree, offering blood draw tests for free to police agencies across the state.

The offer was avidly seized upon, especially by smaller departments that found it problematic to pay the $300 or more typically charged by private labs.

In Colorado, that largely meant ChemaTox, a private company that a recent media report notes has “been handling thousands of cases for Colorado law enforcement for years.”

Reportedly, the new roll-out of free testing is imperiling ChemaTox’ continued existence. Its owner says that the company will likely be forced out of business by the change.

There are other considerations, as well. Critics say that many DUI prosecutions could be threatened by lab techs’ inability to timely work through the onslaught of new cases.

That could adversely affect not only prosecutors, but criminally charged Colorado motorists as well. Commentators duly point out that slower testing could undermine defendants’ due process rights to a speedy trial.

The new system is replete with questions and challenges that reasonably suggest future modification to its operation. We will keep readers of our Denver criminal defense blog at Shazam Kianpour & Associates updated on any key developments that arise.

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