Supreme Court puts 4,000 Minn. DWI cases on hold

Categories: Booze, Crime
More than 4,000 blood alcohol results could be thrown out in court.
Questions over a breathalyzer machine's accuracy have put more than 4,000 DWI cases across the state in limbo.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted defense attorneys' motion to temporarily halt 4,000-plus cases where defendants failed a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000, a device that's currently  being phased-out across the state.

Hundreds of defense lawyers banded together to challenge the machine's results in court, claiming that the Intoxilyzer 5000 is outdated. Ryan Pacyga is defending about 160 clients who've failed the machine's blood-alcohol test, and says it's inaccurate and poorly programmed.

"It's akin to an Atari processor," Pacyga says. "The technology has come a long way since this thing was introduced."

The defense lawyers joined together because individual clients couldn't afford the $70,000 to hire the forensic technology experts needed to challenge the machine.

Pacyga claims that among other issues, blowing too hard can give an inaccurate reading on the Intoxilyzer 5000.
Pacyga says the machine is like an Atari.
If the Supreme Court sides with the state, the results will be admissible and all 4,000-plus cases would resume as usual.

If the judges find for the defense attorneys and throws out the results, those 4,000 defendants would have charges that they were above the legal limit dropped, but would still face the charge of driving while intoxicated.

Pacyga says this is fairer, anyway, describing the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit as "arbitrary."

"Some people are shitfaced at point-oh-eight," he says. "Other people drive just as well as they do normally."

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

The real reason this case has gone to the SC is the refusal of the the company to release source code. This is the exact same as Diebold's BS in 2000 and 2004 elections. Most rational people understand or at least have the ability to understand how these machines work, and can reasonably see that the accuracy really isnt in question. But because these private corporations refuse to disclose the coding, it allows ambulance chasing lawyers, conspiracy theorists, and criminal repeat offenders to take advantage of a loophole.

These companies receive public monies for the equipment they provide. The code must be made public as well. It's called logic. 


I'd love to see these cases thrown out. Drunk driving is a problem, but it's also the primary club that crypto-temperance groups like MADD use to bash drinkers in their crusade against alcohol.

And, no I've never gotten a DWI and no one close to me has either. I just think that the penalty for a first time offense vastly outweighs the severity of the crime.

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault