July 13, 2019

Massive Recall on DWI Test Tubes

In recent news, we have learned that more than 10,000 DWI cases are now in question, due to a recall of the testing devices used to collect and preserve blood evidence in these cases. This is a hugely unfortunate incident, but the discovery seems to come right on time. Just last month, we discussed the recent ban on red light cameras. Now, we learn that approximately 11,000 DWI cases are in question. In both cases, the government took in thousands of dollars each month. All the while citing insufficient evidence in order to charge and fine people they suspected of wrongdoing.

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How Did This Happen?

In short, the company that local law enforcement agencies receive DWI test vials from issues a recall on many of their test tubes. There is supposed to be a special powder within each tube that preserves the blood alcohol concentration. Those trained to use these test tubes should have checked the vials to ensure that the powder is present. However, that seems not to have been the case, or this issue would have been discovered quite some time ago. Instead, we have cases dating back nearly a year ago in question. All because the condition of the vials was repeatedly overlooked. Once blood is in the test tube, it’s too late to tell whether the powder is present.

Does It Really Matter?

Of course, we tend not to empathize with those charged with a DWI. You may figure, even if the test tubes didn’t preserve the blood alcohol concentration, the person was still driving while intoxicated. However, it’s vital that the specific concentration is preserved. DWI cases are tricky enough, with properly functioning test tubes.  At its best, the sample in the tube informs us as to the person’s blood alcohol content when they took the test. As we may know, blood alcohol content (BAC) elevates in a matter of minutes. Thus, the test tube same is already a poor estimate of the person’s BAC at the time they committed the alleged crime.

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If the tube can’t even maintain the alcohol concentration of the blood at the time the test was taken, it’s likely that highly elevated readings were found. Furthermore, the specific charge someone faces is in part determined by their specific BAC at the time of the alleged crime. Thus, it’s possible that thousands of people were convicted with highly exaggerated charges, due to faulty equipment. Many of these people may have been totally innocent. And when innocent people can fall victim to the government’s negligence, we think yes, it does really matter.