An Unscrupulous State Alcohol Lab is a Serious Threat to Public Safety

Posted On July 10, 2023 Charles Ramsay

Over the past six months, we’ve uncovered new levels of misconduct in the state’s alcohol testing labs. We’ve pointed out the quality control problems in the blood, urine, and breath alcohol labs, illuminated the cozy relationship of the breath lab with a private for-profit company, and unveiled the issues with the State’s breath alcohol analyzer’s ability to detect interfering substances. 

Next week, we’ll be posting a mind-blowing analysis of some recent government data showing that interfering substances cause nearly one out of four people to be charged with harsher penalties than they otherwise would.

For now, here’s a recap of the problems we’ve found this year.

The DMT doesn’t always flag interfering substances

We dove deep into the topic of interfering substances and breath alcohol testing this year. In January, we uncovered that the State didn’t have a procedure to properly make the solutions they use to test the breath machine for interfering substances. 

Once we revealed to the world the problem, they quickly reversed course, creating a procedure for the solutions. However, their procedure still isn’t any better

We also showed that state scientists are confused about when the DMT breath machine will flag for substances like acetone. In court, I've heard testimony that the DMT will allow interfering substances to add as much as 0.02 to a test. And the official documents have conflicting information about when the DMT will flag a test for such a substance.

In addition, a former state scientist, Aaron Olson, has analyzed thousands of breath samples near the legal limit and found that a significant fraction of those samples had substances that put a person's breath over the legal limit.

The fuel cell should’ve never been shut off

By looking at the original testing data from the manufacturer, we’ve shown that the fuel cell was necessary to detect interfering substances. Instead of fixing the problem, the state just shut off this important quality control.

I’ve even gone as far as to call for a stop to breath testing because of it. I showed how the state scientists turned off 75% of the breath machine's interference detection when it shut off the fuel cell.

Quality assurance problems in the blood and urine alcohol lab

We uncovered how the BCA blood/urine alcohol lab refuses to calibrate its pipette, doesn’t use proper matrix-matched controls, and mislabels its controls

Private interest over the public good

State “scientists” have been colluding with the AG’s office to prevent the release of the source code. It still astounds me that the state hasn’t learned its lesson from the first source code debacle.

There’s much more to come

Next week I’ll post about the data I obtained from a government data practice request. The data contains information about interfering substances on Minnesotan’s breath near the 0.16 legal threshold. It’s mind-boggling, to say the least. 

Stay tuned and subscribe to our blog to keep up with the latest news from Ramsay Law. 

If you’ve been a victim of the state’s shoddy science, call us at Ramsay Law. We know the science and the law.