Minnesota Defense Attorneys’ “Source Code” Challenge Ends

10 Mar

For the last few years, the most popular issue for attorneys defending clients against charges of DWI was a challenge to the “source code” of the Intoxilyzer 5000 machine, which machine was used to measure a suspect’s breath to determine the amount of alcohol in their system.  The challenge by DWI defense attorneys, both in Minnesota and in other states where such challenges have been mounted, was that the Intoxilyzer machine has an error within its internal computer code that causes inaccurate test results as to the amount of alcohol in a person’s body.  In addition, DWI defense attorneys, who asked for the source code for the purported purpose of having it analyzed by an expert, came to understand that the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 5000 would not release the source code on proprietary grounds.  This inability for prosecutors to provide the defense attorneys with the source code then became another arrow in the quiver of defense attorneys.  The challenges became widespread with groups of defense attorneys forming coalitions in order to pool resources to attack and retain experts to study the source code.  Those years of challenges culminated in a consolidated action presided over by Dakota County District Court Judge Abrams, in which there was a trial with a host of experts.  Yesterday, March 9, 2011, Judge Abrams issued the final order in the matter ultimately finding that the Intoxilyzer 5000 was accurate and that the source code did not change that.  The 116 page order can be found here and provides more than enough detail on the source code challenges and ultimate demise.

This blog entry is written by Chris Renz, a shareholder at Thomsen Nybeck. Chris practices in the litigation area of the firm with primary focus on  real estate litigation, employment litigation, townhome and condominium law, and criminal law, particularly as the prosecutor for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

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