Archive for February 5th, 2008

Fraudulent Crime Lab DUI Tests: Update

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

My last post reported on the findings of a panel of Seattle judges which concluded that the state’s crime lab responsible for breath testing had routinely engaged in “fraudulent and scientifically unacceptable” practices that have compromised breath-test readings across Washington. 

On February 2nd, a Seattle television station ran a more in-depth investigation, resulting in an interesting report on their news program.  The complete video can be seen and heard at ”Up Front: DUI Breath Tests Thrown Into Question”, and begins with comments concerning the judicial findings:


…A scathing report of what was going on at this state agency lab.  Judges say it was fraud, a total disregard for accuracy.  So what does it mean for DUI cases going back for years?…

The judges are brutally blunt and saying it’s not just mistakes, it’s fraud, and the breath tests results simply cannot be trusted…

Defense attorneys say the problem is not with the police or with how the test is administered, it’s a meltdown at the state toxicology lab.

Defense Attorney Ted Vosk:  They deceived the judges, they deceived the prosecutors, they deceived the officer out on the street.

The panel of three King County judges agreed, finding “Ethical lapses, systemic inaccuracy, negligence and violations of scientific principles.  Literally thousands of breath tests performed in recent years were effected through a multiplicity of errors.”…

How did it happen?…


The report goes on to give a credible account of what’s been going on in the Washington state crim lab. No problem, though, according to the King County prosecutor:


Reporter:  When you see a breath test today, how much confidence do you place in the results?

Prosecutor: I’m quite confident.


How did it happen?  The same way it’s happening in police crime labs across the country:  the role of the crime lab has shifted from one of analyzing evidence to one of facilitating convictions…whatever it takes.

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