Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Procedures Found Lacking In DWI Case

Posted On February 04, 2014 by Daniel Koewler

Drivers in Minnesota can have their license revoked for a variety of reasons besides alcohol. Using street drugs (heroin, methamphetamine, and so forth) will lead to a revocation, as will prescription drugs. It's quite a stretch to say that someone should lose their license for using a Vicks VapoInhaler, though . . . and even more of a stretch to make the claim that someone suffering from nasal congestion should be deemed a meth head. But that's how the Minnesota BCA seems to operate.

They tested a DWI blood sample, and decided to report the sample as positive for methamphetamine. The driver, having never used meth in her life, had an independent laboratory test the same sample. That lab reported a big "negative| for meth.

How could two independent laboratories, using the latest in technologies, test the same sample and come up with separate results? That was the question presented to a Sterns County Judge, who weighed the evidence and ultimately concluded that the BCA had overstepped its bounds in deciding to report this driver's test as positive for meth.

The BCA has had numerous, documented problems following the basic scientific standards established by the rest of the community of forensic toxicologists. They still utilize first-void urine alcohol testing, while the rest of the world has effectively deemed that practice as little more than junk science. They have serious problems storing samples, destroying evidence due to their own errors. They knew their breath test device was broken, but didn't bother to fix it, even when the mistake could result in mistaken convictions.

So, back to the driver who used over the counter medicine to counter a common cold and got labeled as a meth user. It turns out that when the BCA tested that driver's blood, it detected levels of methamphetamine so low that the rest of the scientific community would have deemed the sample as |negative.| But not the BCA; despite the real risk that the molecular similarities between the compounds found in Vick's VapoInhaler and actual, illegal meth could create a |false positive,| our BCA reported the result in a way that would guarantee criminal charges and a license revocation.

What's even more interesting is that the independent lab that also tested the sample actually detected a higher concentration of |meth| in this blood sample (.009 mg/L) versus the BCA's reading (.0074) yet still (correctly) reported her test as |negative.|

The Court, with the aid of forensic scientist Thomas Burr's testimony, addressed the conflicting evidence from the BCA and the independent lab. The Court ultimately held that the BCA's disregard for the |general convention of science| meant that the government failed to meet its burden to prove that the driver was actually violating Minnesota's DWI laws at the time she was driving, and therefore reversed the license revocation.

The BCA may be designing its lab policies to ensure a maximum amount of convictions, versus doing its duty to disclose the full scientific truth according to established scientific principles . . . but that's why we have defense attorneys.

You'll want to stay tuned - we've got a truly shocking new development to disclose shortly, detailing major problems with the BCA and its DWI breath test division.