DWI Urine Testing - Inconsistent Rulings by Minnesota Courts

Posted On October 20, 2009 by Charles Ramsay

Since at least as early as 1952, Minnesota's courts have held scientific techniques to a high standard before they could be admitted in a court case. Scientific evidence can be admitted only after passing what is called the "Frye-Mack| test.

The Frye-Mack test is simple on its face: the proponent of scientific evidence must first demonstrate the scientific community generally accepts the science before it can be admitted. The rationale behind such an analysis is to both insure that judges do not play the role of amateur scientist when evaluating scientific evidence, and to provide uniformity of rulings across the state.

Earlier this year a Minnesota judge found in one of my cases that Urine testing in Minnesota does not pass the Frye-Mack test and did not permit the test results into evidence. This is the only known Urine Frye-Mack hearing in Minnesota â?¦ ever!

See the court order preventing urine test result in a driver's license case at RamsayResults.com.

Previously, a judge agreed with us and threw out our client's urine test results for similar reasons, although not based specifically on the Frye-Mack test. See the Dakota County judge's DWI urine test order.

Last month, one our firm's attorneys, Dan Koewler, convinced another judge to grant a Frye-Mack hearing. The state opposed our motion. The judge's urine test order can be found here. That hearing to determine whether Minnesota's DWI urine tests are generally accepted in the scientific community will be held soon.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court which prevented another attorney from presenting evidence that the urine test is scientifically invalid. The Pioneer Press reported on this, here. This case does not apply to the Frye-Mack test as the attorneys did not bring that issue before either court. You may read or download the Minnesota Court of Appeals opinion, Hayes v. Commissioner of Public Safety.

Minnesota prosecutors have used the |we've always done it that way| argument. Sure, Minnesota has used urine test in drunken driving cases for decades. But the state has never presented any evidence that the urine tests in Minnesota are generally accepted in the scientific community. To the contrary, in a previous blog I've listed the peer reviewed scientific articles proving, urine tests are rejected by scientists as being invalid, unreliable and inaccurate.

There is hope. Stay tuned for my next blog posting where I discuss my oral argument before the court of appeals on this issue.

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