Hundreds of DUI Cases in Broward County Jeopardized by Flawed Drug-Testing Practices :: Whittel & Melton
October 29, 2012
Attorneys and prosecutors in south Florida are preparing to review hundreds of criminal and civil cases after it was revealed that the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office conducted faulty toxicology tests in DUI cases involving alleged drug use.
According to Broward Medical Examiner Craig Mallak, his office wrongly authenticated its drug testing procedures in all cases that went through the ME’s office before Aug. 24, 2012. The lab has been shut down and all new cases are being referred to an independent laboratory.
At this time it is unclear how long the problem dates back or how many cases could be affected.
Improper testing procedures were performed in tests for dozens of drugs, including cocaine, heroin, hydrocodone, ocycodone, marijuana, amphetamines, Valium, Xanax, sleeping pills and numerous other over-the-counter pills that could affect a user’s ability to drive.
Mallak claims alcohol and PCP, also known as Angel Dust, were not on the list of substances tested improperly.
Mallak apparently discovered the issue when preparing to improve the office’s professional standing by pursuing accreditation from the College of American Pathologists.
Currently, prosecutors have been instructed to review pending cases before they make it to trial.
Mallak claims pending cases are salvageable because urine and blood samples are still at the Medical Examiner’s Office. He sent 50 pending cases to the University of Florida for independent testing. More outside tests are expected to be performed.
However, even if the tests validate initial results on pending cases, there is still a problem with the closed cases where fluid samples may have been destroyed. The accuracy of these tests may not meet the legal standards to be used as evidence in a criminal trial.
Criminal cases may not be the only ones affected – civil suits involving cases of wrongful death or injury may also be called in to question.
This news is a very big deal. If someone tested positive for drugs and the test was sent to the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office where it was not validated, the evidence is now inadmissible which will undoubtedly change the outcome of the case entirely. Without crucial evidence like accurate blood test evidence, there is not much of a case left for the State to prosecute.
While many people believe that if they submit to a blood, breath or urine test they will automatically be convicted of DUI in Florida, this is simply not true. In fact, there are numerous errors that have been found with blood and urine samples, including inaccuracies with the police officer that administered the test to the lab that tested the results. The same reigns true for breath tests. In many circumstances, the machine used to test a person’s BAC level is improperly calibrated or has a history of faulty readings. And sometimes the test was just not administered properly.
While Breathalyzer tests are often found to be more unreliable than blood tests, this does not mean that these tests are incapable of being flawed. The Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can assist those that may have been the victims of faulty breath, blood or urine tests. We understand that laboratories do multiple tests on a routine basis, but all tests have a natural margin of error. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, we may be able to get the charges against you dropped by successfully challenging the prosecution’s evidence.
After you have been arrested for DUI anywhere in the state of Florida, contact the Florida DUI Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton right away. We can begin assisting you immediately and look into the validity of any blood, breath or urine tests obtained following your arrest. Reach us 24/7 online or by calling us statewide and toll-free at 866-608-5529.