Source Code Update: Supreme Court Oral Arguments

A quick summary of five years’ of litigation:

The Intoxilyzer 5000 EN 240

A driver charged with a DWI is often “accused” by the reported results of a breathalyzer machine (other methods used to “prove” driving while impaired (DWI) include urinalysis, blood analysis, or direct observation of someone’s behavior).  Unlike a defendant charged in other criminal matters, the defendant charged with a DWI, has not generally been able to cross examine the witness against him or her – the machine reporting the number.  The machine most commonly used in Minnesota is the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN 240 (in which “240” refers to the software version and the rest refers to the machine itself), and that was the machine against which our challenge was leveled.

The Source Code Coalition

Defense attorneys, including the Barry S. Edwards Law Office, formed a coalition of attorneys, the Source Code Coalition, to pool our resources to hire experts in computer forensics to test whether the software running the machines reliably produced accurate measurements of a driver’s blood alcohol (as measured via breath).

Consolidation of DWI Cases

Mostly for the sake of efficiency, the Source Code Coalition and the attorneys for the State of Minnesota agreed to consolidate some 4,000 DWI cases and to allow one judge, Jerome Abrams of Dakota County, to hear the all the experts’ analysis of whether the machine’s results were, in fact, accurate enough to convict a person of DWI.   While other evidence of intoxication is allowed and other defenses  can be raised, the majority of breath-test DWI charges in Minnesota stand or fail due to the breathalyzer results: whether the machine reports a 0.08 or above.

Some of the problems found with the Intoxilyzer 5000 EN included ambient radio frequency interference (RFI), whether the external breath tube is warmed adequately (which the machine does not test), and the fact that the machine reports that the driver has provided an insufficient breath sample to test (charged as a gross misdemeanor “test refusal”).

Supreme Court Arguments

Today’s arguments, in which Derek Patrin ably argued for our side, seeks to resolve what challenges are admissible to the reliability of the breathalyzer test results.

Contact the Barry S. Edwards Law Office if you have any questions about the Source Code litigation, breathalyzer tests, or DWIs.

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