Eh? Tri-County Crime Lab in Minnesota will try to make sure there are no more big mistakes like the mathematical error that led to inflated blood alcohol concentration (BAC) readings in 111 DUI / drunk driving / driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases, attorneys say.
The sheriff’s office found mathematical errors in 111 DUI / drunk driving /cases, lawyers aret told.
Lt. Steven Johnson, laboratory director, says lab scientists did not multiply the end result of the urine test by 0.67 to determine to grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine. Because the math was not done, the end result showed grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine. For example, this meant a person with a 0.14 BAC would have been reported to have a 0.21 BAC, which raises the offense level from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor.
The blood tests do not require this mathematical calculation, according to San Diego DUI lawyers.
Of the 111 errors, the re-calculation dropped 11 cases to under the legal BAC level of 0.08, according to the lab results, say DUI / drunk driving attorneys from San Diego California.
Most of the DUI / drunk driving cases — 59 — were not impacted because the BAC was so high that it had no effect on the person’s charge. A DUI / drunk driving / DWI goes from being a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor when the 0.20 level is hit. There were 38 cases that were changed from gross misdemeanor to misdemeanor. Three cases were not DWI in nature so no court case was affected.
After the lab became aware of the problem, Johnson said he contacted the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) office out of St. Paul to have an independent third party find out what went wrong.
Johnson believes the BCA confirmed the mistakes were human errors and there was nothing wrong with the science procedures the lab used to calculate how much alcohol was in somebody’s system.
Within a couple of days, Johnson indicates the lab was able to re-calculate the new BAC levels for all 111 cases and inform all impacted attorneys of the problem.
Soon after that, the forensic lab set up new procedures to make sure human errors never impacted any cases again.
The lab set up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to automatically multiply the urine sample results by 0.67 so that the scientists do not have to remember to do that. If a scientist forgets to add a number to the report, the program will not allow them to submit their report. Furthermore, the lab scientists now review each other’s reports to verify there are no errors or omissions.
Johnson said the lab has been given “a clean bill of health” by the BCA during a later quarterly meeting that also involved the State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense office.
Johnson and his lab’s quality assurance manager Sgt. Andy Knotz were invited to give a presentation on how they responded to these errors at a September 2010 Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists conference in Kansas City, Mo.
The crime lab opened Jan. 1, 2010, a joint effort between Anoka, Sherburne and Wright counties.