Lab Errors Lead to DUI Challenges in Washington

Next week DUI defense attorneys across the State of Washington will begin arguing for dismissal of their clients charges based revelations that errors were made at the state toxicology lab. Hundreds of legal motions were filed after lab manager Ann Marie Gordon resigned due to allegations that she signed false statements. Defense attorneys cite this as just the latest in a pervasive pattern of misconduct and incompetence at the state lab.

The challenge to test results from the lab is further buoyed by reports of errors in the way breath testing equipment was calibrated. During a two year period the blood alcohol content of drunk driving suspects may have been skewed by lab procedures.

Gordon is accused of repeatedly signing statements that avowed she personally tested the breath-test machines to ensure they were working properly, when in fact another scientist performed the control tests.

The lab increased its roster of toxicologists in 2005 but did not change the formula used to determine the aggregate of their data. Solutions thus used to calibrate breath test equipment across the state were incorrect, resulting in BAC readings of .08 or higher when in fact the blood alcohol content of the suspect was lower than the legal threshold for Washington DUI. The mistake was not realized until a review was performed after Brown

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