Newswire: March 14, 2017.
The alleged forgery of electronic signatures has called into question more than 100 drunken-driving convictions in Colorado.
Defense attorneys have counted 130 forged certifications of breathalyzer accuracy, according to The Denver Post, after a former electronics specialist blew the whistle on irregular practices within the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
The department validates, certifies and maintains the equipment Colorado law enforcement agencies use to test the breath-alcohol content of drivers suspected of drunken driving.
The specialist said that in 2013, a supervisor told three people, none of whom were technicians and two were not even state employees, to calibrate and validate the machines and then sign the certificate for him, electronically.
Breathalyzer results are critical to the prosecution of drunken-driving cases within the state. In this case, 200 Intoxilyzer 9000 devices are used by the state’s 165 law enforcement agencies, and under state law, no expert is required to testify to their accuracy. The certificates provided by the state Department of Public Health and Environment are often the only proof given to a jury that the machine worked properly and accurately measured a suspect’s BAC.
The issue came to light when defense attorneys noticed that certifications in 2015 bore the electronic signature of a former laboratory director more than a year after she left it. The state’s defense bar has demanded an investigation into the certification and electronic signature practices, which Gov. John Hickenlooper has so far rejected.
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