In 2008 a panel of King County, Washington judges (the “Panel”) ruled that breath test results were not admissible in DUI cases filed in King County District Courts because there were so many pervasive problems with the Washington State breath-testing procedures and protocols. An audit of the Washington State Toxicology Lab (the “Lab”) found at least 150 errors, including, but not limited to, machine calibration errors, the recording of incorrect data and a failure to test an ethanol-water based solution used to ensure correct readings by certified Washington State breath test machines. The Panel noted that the Lab had so many ethical lapses, systematic inaccuracies, violations of scientific principles and blatant negligence that the Lab was essentially condoning and/or otherwise accepting a “culture of compromise”.
As a result of the Panel’s ruling, breath tests were not an acceptable form of evidence to prove one guilty of DUI in our King County District Courts. On Tuesday, the Panel reversed course. The Panel ruled that changes in leadership, protocol and quality control checks at the Lab over the last two years have greatly improved the ability of the Lab to eliminate errors, and thus breath tests can again be used as evidence in DUI cases prosecuted in King County District Courts. The Panel did mandate, however, that each breath test must include a calculated “principle of uncertainty” or “margin of error”. The uncertainty calculation is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account operator error and instrument error, as well as other variables such as the breathing pattern and even temperature of the individual being breath tested. Currently Washington State certified breath test machines do not perform these types of calculations. As a result, the Panel’s ruling will require Lab personnel to do the mathematical equation by hand.
It appears that DUI cases in King County, Washington just got a lot trickier to defend. A person charged with DUI in Western Washington would be well served in retaining a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI Lawyer. A person charged with a King County DUI should retain a qualified Seattle DUI attorney so as to not only best minimize the myriad of legal consequences he/she faces, but also to protect his/her rights and liberty interests. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified Seattle DUI lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those charged with DUI in Western Washington. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the DUI allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible.