Breathalyzer and Toxicology Lab Problems in the District of Columbia
On August 27, 2015, the Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG) sent a letter to the President of Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association and to the Chief Judge of DC Superior Court indicating that the breath program was deactivated because of the resignation of Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) breath test manager. They also indicated other problems in the toxicology lab.
Deactivation of District of Columbia Breath Alcohol Testing and Calibration Program “Breath Program”
In order to make sure that proper protocols are in place the “Breath program” has to have a manager that will make sure the machines are calibrated and working properly. According to the letter sent to DC Criminal Lawyers, the breath test program was officially deactivated on July 26, 2015 because the manager resigned. The Attorney General does not indicate what the unofficial deactivation date was. Furthermore, New Channel 4 of Washington, DC indicates that 4th District still has an operational breathalyzer unit. It begs the question of who is managing the records in the 4th District police department for that breathalyzer. These are questions that need to be raised by your friendly neighborhood DUI lawyer in DC.
OCME Division of Forensic Toxicology “Toxicology lab” Problems
The Attorney General for Washington , DC also states OCME toxicology lab ceased operations on May 22, 2015 because Lucas Zarwell, chief of Toxicologist, noted failures by two staff members. As of today OAG still has not given criminal defense lawyers additional documentation regarding any other failures or what remedies were put in place to correct staff members. The police are now telling individuals arrested for DUI to do the urine test because of the inadequacy of the breathalyzer machines. This is disturbing giving Lucas Zarwell testimony before the council in 2011. See Lucas Zarwell Testimony before City Counsel. All I can say is ARRGH!! Give me a break people!
So What does this mean for the person arrested for DUI?
CHALLENGE CHALLENGE CHALLENGE!!! Do not take the test for face value. It makes absolutely no sense that the nations capital has these failures. Lastly, make sure your criminal lawyer knows whats going in the District of Columbia with respect to the breathalyzer and toxicology labs before going to trial or accepting a plea deal.
Rollins and Chan Law Firm