DUI cases in legal limbo

"The biggest scandal in the history of alcohol testing."

While said by a defendant following his DUI trial, Colorado judges and defense attorneys likely feel the same, including Gilpin County Judge David Taylor. The jurist admonished state regulators for knowingly producing falsified certificates attesting to the accuracy of breathalyzer machines in court.

Taylor took decisive action by handing down an order barring the use of blood alcohol testing machine results as evidence. Considering the broad scope of the hearings, some feel that it will likely serve as state precedent unless prosecutors successfully appeal the order.

Robert Freidlander, the above-quoted defendant, was arrested for DUI, yet continued to insist that he was not over the legal limit. Three days and 20 hours of testimony ended when Taylor's order was announced.

Freidlander's and other pending DUI cases and prior convictions are now in a state of legal limbo throughout the state. Those cases include Intoxilyzer-9000 machine test results from July 2015 to January 2017.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's job is to issue documentation presented in court to verify the accuracy and proper testing of Intoxilyzers. The machines automatically generate the certificates.

Yet, for 18 months, certificates generated had the forged signature of a now-former director of laboratory services who departed in July 2015. In a sworn statement, Dr. Laura Gilllim-Ross claimed that she was not aware that her signature remained in use after leaving the CDPHE, nor was she involved with any machine certification.

Instead of fixing the problem, the CDPHE decided to wait for a planned software update, resulting in "inaccurate, misleading and deceptive," certificates filed in court, according to Judge Taylor's order. He found that the certificates were inadmissible and violated defendants' rights to due process.

The ruling did not question the machines' accuracy, but rather the fraudulent signatures created evidence that was not truthful.

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