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Critical Mistakes By CBI Impact Drunk Driving Cases

Critical Mistakes By CBI Impact Drunk Driving Cases

Poorly written instructions are being blamed for botched blood alcohol tests conducted by a scientist at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. In January, a CBS4 (Denver) investigation revealed mistakes in 56 blood alcohol tests during a four month period from August 2015 through November 2015.

Here's what happened: A CBI refrigerator used to cool blood vials malfunctioned, leading to a need to retest DUI samples housed in the refrigerator. At the same time, two separate independent labs started noticing problems and reported them to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is responsible for certifying labs and launched a formal investigation into the lab testing procedures at CBI. The errors traced back to a CBI scientist, working at the agencies’ Pueblo lab, who was using faulty procedures and allowed too much alcohol to evaporate during the tests. The error resulted in 56 of the 123 tests the scientist conducted were reported more than 10 percent too low. No defendants were overcharged because of the lab testing errors.

CBI immediately stopped testing once the problem was identified. The CBI says the faulty refrigerator did not impact any of the blood samples it was storing or any of the 56 problem tests.

A total of 29 of the 56 cases are now closed, 18 were either dismissed or plea bargained down to a lesser charge than the original Driving Under the Influence charge. The remaining 27 are still working their way through the legal system.