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Arizona DUI lab faces scrutiny over questionable blood-testing equipment

Since 2009, hundreds of inmates have been convicted of DUI in Scottsdale Arizona. However, their cases could potentially be overturned in the near future. The blood-testing equipment utilized by the Scottsdale, Arizona, police department crime lab in all of these cases has come under scrutiny. And, the challenge is now up for decision in front of a judge.

Specifics of the accusations

Specifically, the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in these cases are arguing that the equipment that was used by lab technicians to determine these DUI results simply can’t be trusted because they likely revealed inaccurate results.

Court documents show that, in 2009, the crime lab made the decision to use older software with new blood-testing machines. However, it was later determined by one of the lab’s supervisors that the older software wasn’t compatible with the newer machines. (In a related case, the supervisor even testified in court that the information provided from the machines after 2009 was essentially “gobbledy-gook.”)

A patch was subsequently installed to fix the glitch with the equipment. However, according to the supervisor, the new patch didn’t work and the problem still remained.

The Scottsdale police, however, refute the allegations. They argue that the credibility of the lab procedures remain superior and say that the lab is meeting or exceeding internationally recognized blood-testing standards.

But court documents show that, for many years, the police have been aware of the potential problems with the blood-testing devices. In previous years, the same equipment came under scrutiny when it was found mislabeling vials and erasing important baseline information from measurements.

Current status of the case

Currently, an evidentiary hearing for eleven felony DUI the cases is being conducted in Arizona’s Maricopa County Superior Court.

The lawyers for all eleven offenders hope the judge will rule in their favor and suppress the blood evidence from the lab used against them.

It remains to be seen what will happen in these cases. If the judge rules in favor of the legal challenge and decides to suppress the evidence from the lab, it could open the door for review of future DUI cases that were analyzed by the same lab.

The total number of DUI offenders that were potentially affected is still unknown. However, according to data provided by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Scottsdale police issued over 2500 DUI citations last year alone.

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