Hopkins police welcome a Minnesota Supreme Court decision that upholds the use of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN—even though the department had already switched over to a new breath-testing device and resolved most of the affected cases.
“I wouldn’t characterize it as a win,” said Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg. “I think it just states what we believed in the beginning—that we had faith in the Intoxilyzer.”
The court ruled 4-3 that errors in the breath-testing device’s source code don’t affect its overall accuracy, allowing more than 4,000 drunken-driving and implied-consent cases across the state to move forward.
The ruling comes the day after the changed out its Intoxilyzer for a new DataMaster DMT-G—a device so new the department had not yet used it when Patch spoke with Glassberg on Wednesday afternoon.
Still, the department had 10 cases left unresolved because of the Supreme Court case.
That’s just a fraction of the cases that originally could have been affected by the ruling, but the city attorney was able to arrive at plea agreements for most of the cases.
Glassberg did not immediately know the original number of Hopkins cases affected.
“It was considerably more than 10,” he said.
The court case didn’t directly absorb Hopkins Police Department staff time. But it did force police to alter their procedures. For a time, officers relied exclusively on blood or urine samples—which took extra time when, for example, officers had to take a suspect to the hospital for blood draw, Glassberg said.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension hired additional scientists to analyze the samples in order to speed up turn-around times, and the department resumed limited use of the Intoxilyzer once BCA examination backed up the device’s accuracy. But while the case was outstanding, officers used other methods for gross misdemeanors and felonies, where the legitimacy of the tests were most likely to be challenged.
Hopkins officers have been training on the new DataMaster DMT-G for the past six months. They’ll have the discretion to choose which testing method works best for the case their handling at the time.
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