Minnesota's Intoxilyzer: A Flawed DWI Breath Test Machine

Posted On September 25, 2009 by Charles Ramsay

New Court Transcript: A Five-Part Series â?? Pt. 1:

Minnesota Knows of Critical Software Flaw; Refuses to Install Patch

A recent Court Transcript provides new information into the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's (BCA) concealment of critical flaws in the software that runs the Intoxilyzer 5000, the state's breath testing machine. The transcript was produced as a result of testimony taken in the cases of State v. MH, and MH v. Commissioner of Public Safety in Crow Wing County. This is the first of a five-part series to publish the new revelations.

The August 26, 2009 transcript includes new revelations of the source code/software problem which erroneously accuses drivers of refusing to take an alcohol test. Refusal is a crime under Minnesota's DWI laws, which I've addressed previously in my blog and on my website.

The transcript of the testimony of a BCA forensic scientist reveals:

The BCA is aware of the "potential| problem with the Intoxilyzer rejecting what should be an acceptable sample;

CMI, the Intoxilyzer 5000's manufacturer, provided the BCA with a software patch to correct the problem;

The BCA did not test or install the corrected version of the software;

The state chose not to test or install the software was to avoid enflaming the |source code| issue;

The BCA employee speculates that cost may have also been a factor in the decision to not test or upgrade the flawed software.

Here is an Excerpt of the transcript:

Q: So we are aware of a problem with the current version of software that would reject what might be otherwise valid breath sample, right?

A: Potentially, not definitely.

Q: And the CMI provided BCA with a fix that purportedly corrected that problem, right?

A: Purportedly.

Q: And instead of testing it, the BCA shelved it, correct?

A: We did not test it, correct.

Q: And one of the reasons was because the BCA did not want to inflame the Source Code issue; is that right?

A: â?¦ [T]hat was at least part of the decision, but I don't know that that was the exclusive decision. I mean, there's also the incredible cost and time involved, and doing a software change, and ultimately we've been asking for money for three years for new instruments when we were hoping we would get that.

Q: What would be the cost of fixing this problem with the software?

A: The actual cost is in time and travel.

Q: How much would that be?

A: Several thousand, but I don't know.

Q: Several thousand dollars?

A: Several thousand, yes.

Q: How do you think that balances against people being erroneously deemed a refusal to test?

A: That would be my opinion. My opinion is I don't believe that I can tell you what the value of the State's money is. I don't think I can answer that question.

A complete transcript will be posted on Ramsay Law Firm's website, soon.

Minnesota's Intoxilyzer: A flawed DWI Breath Test Machine

New Court Transcript: A Five-Part Series

To Come:

Part 2: The Current Software: A Change in Breath Sample Acceptance Criteria

Part 3: -What Does It Mean?

Part 4: -A Change in Breath Testing Procedures: Are Police Properly Conducting Tests?

Part 5:-BCA Concealment: The Public, Courts

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