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Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects DUI Challenges Based On Buggy Software

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the technology-always-works-perfectly dept.

Software 391

bzzfzz writes "In a case with parallels to the Diebold Voting Machine fiasco, Minnesota's Supreme Court upheld the reliability of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN breath testing machine on a narrow 4-3 vote. Source code analysis during the six-year legal battle revealed a number of bugs that could potentially affect test results. Several thousand DUI cases that were waiting on the results of this appeal will now proceed. The ruling is one in a series of DUI-related court victories for police and prosecutors. Other recent cases upheld a conviction of a person with no evidence that the vehicle had been driven and convictions based solely on urine samples that may only show impairment hours before driving. The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is now considered obsolete, and replacement devices are being rolled out, with the last jurisdictions in the state scheduled to retire their 5000ENs by the end of the year."

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I for one... (-1, Offtopic)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470293)

...welcome our Diebold voting machine overlords.

Re:I for one... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470357)

Lame frosty.

Also, fuck this sociopathy of a "justice system". There is no consistency. They did not throw out these convictions only to save on paperwork. They should have been thrown out.

Also, if everyone exercised their right to a fair trial, then this bullshit criminal legal system would collapse. You'd see a lot fewer trumped up charges and minor offenses would be handled far more sanely. This "justice system" is like an abusive parent with a loud and obnoxious toddler.

Re:I for one... (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470465)

They did not throw out these convictions only to save on paperwork.

More likely...they didn't want to throw them out because of revenue loss.

They're not interested in making the roads safer, they're wanting to protect their revenue stream.

I'd be willing to bet, that if you took all the revenue from driving infractions, and pooled them, and maybe gave it all back to the citizens that did NOT incur any infractions...rather than give it to the cops, you'd see a huge drop in the vigor and ferocity of our 'safety' officials in setting up all these traps, and the system not caring much about how realistic, accurate and fair they are....

It is always a bad idea to allow those that can impose power over you, directly benefit monetarily from said actions.

Re:I for one... (4, Insightful)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470623)

Traffic laws are a sore spot for me. It pisses me off that a cop will sit on the side of a 6 lane road (3 lanes each way) ticketing people for going faster than the 60km/h speed limit on a divided road with no crosswalks (at the crest of a hill no less). Meanwhile, nearby there is a playground zone with kids playing, and people zip through there, but no cop in sight.

I think that police should focus on areas where they can actually improve public safety, specifically, school and playground zones. It is very, very, very rare to see a police officer ticketing people speeding or passing in a playground zone. Dont get me started on automated systems (multinova, red light cams, speed on green).

Follow the Power (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470861)

More likely...they didn't want to throw them out because of revenue loss.

If it were that easy, it'd be mere corruption.

But consider that those with the libido dominandi seek money, sex, and power - in that order.

We all know that speed limit laws are often set capriciously, foolishly, and dangerously. But it's the law - and you'll obey.

It's like the marijuana debate. It doesn't matter that there's plenty of scientific evidence to show that alcohol is more dangerous, that legalizing marijuana reduces deaths and crime, etc. That's been known for at least decades. Yet the policies continue - why?

Sure, there's some financial emolument to certain players by having these laws, but there's way more benefit for the power structure. The point of these policies is to enforce the power structure. They dictate, you obey, logic and reason need not apply. Repeat until you understand who's in charge, what your position is, and how free you really are.

So then we get Supreme Court decisions like this one which takes a reasoned argument, throws it out, and that sets the new precedent. We must all obey these precedents, because that's what the system decided. We're taught that the system operates for our benefit, but primarily (literal sense) it operates for its own perpetuation. There's even SCOTUS precedent for decisions which basically say, "the defendant's claim has merit, but finding for him would threaten the system, so we find for the State."

"Follow the money" is good in business, but in politics, do that and also "follow the power".

Re:I for one... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470539)

I love to drink and Drive so this ruling is great. Us drunks rule the road so get over it loser.

Minnesota, eh. (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470311)

We're the only state that can lock you up for life without a trial; all it takes is a judge to agree that there's a risk you could offend again. In other words, you serve your sentence, and then an unappealable, arbitrary decision, by one guy, can have you spend the rest of your life in jail. Our laws in this state are so bad that the European Union refuses to extradite people here in several cases. I am not surprised that they just basically crapped in the pool of civil rights and then shrugged and went on with their business.

We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street. Seriously. It was upheld on the basis that he could have gotten in a motor vehicle, because he had his car keys on him. Bonus: The car didn't even run.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470403)

Well, shit.

- scratches Minnesota off the list of possible places to live.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470441)

And to top it all off, our food is bland, and a kid can't even take a porn star to the prom without an uproar. This state is whack.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470513)

Did they even need to prove that he had been drinking? Based on that logic, they should be able to lock anyone up if they have car keys and cash because they could buy alcohol and drive a car. It's like a car analogy of the "you've got all the equipment" joke.

Careful there (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470535)

We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street

We? I don't get it. Are you implying that you, yourself, are responsible for this injustice? How can that be, when you have just declared your moral opposition to it? Were you in favor of it at one time, and since have flip-flopped your position?

Re:Careful there (1, Flamebait)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470571)

We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street

We? I don't get it. Are you implying that you, yourself, are responsible for this injustice? How can that be, when you have just declared your moral opposition to it? Were you in favor of it at one time, and since have flip-flopped your position?

I take it the several-thousand-year-old concept of a democratic republic is somehow new to you? Or perhaps it's the idea of social responsibility you're having trouble with...

Why do I get the sinking feeling this particular AC falls into the 'under 25' age group?

Re:Careful there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470645)

The government is a representative democracy. Therefore, anything done by the state, is derived from a mandate from the people. The people are responsible for anything done by the state, QED.

So yes, he and anyone else with citizenship and of voting age are more-or-less responsible to this injustice.

Re:Careful there (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470897)

The government is a representative democracy.

That's the claim. Have you proven it?

Therefore, anything done by the state, is derived from a mandate from the people.

And if the government violates its restricted mandate? If it has a single-digit approval rating? If the people aren't competent to make the deal? If the deal isn't hereditary?

The people are responsible for anything done by the state, QED.

Prove your terms first.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470609)

We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street. Seriously. It was upheld on the basis that he could have gotten in a motor vehicle, because he had his car keys on him. Bonus: The car didn't even run.

Do you have a source for that story? Because I've not heard about that happening. The only story I can find on Google is about a woman who was seen with an "unsteady gait" walking towards her car, and got pulled over because of it (the officer using the unsteadiness as probable cause, which is a stretch but still).

Re:Minnesota, eh. (5, Informative)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470783)

Do you have a source for that story? Because I've not heard about that happening.

It was a local only story; It ran on the Star Tribune and WCCO also picked it up sometime last summer. Unfortunately, neither site maintains a (free) searchable archive, so I can't give you anything more than that. Sorry. What I can do is point you in the direction of an expert on the matter locally: Chuck Ramsay [mndwidefenseblog.com] , who won last year's Attorney of the Year award for this state and specializes in DUI convictions.

Some highlights from the website include: Cases pending where a vehicle can be seized by the government for suspicion of DUI when a conviction is not obtained. Minnesota also has a habit of destroying evidence used in DUI convictions after 1 year regardless of if a case is still on appeal or not (by law, you can request a retest of any positive result by a different lab; But if the sample isn't available for retesting, this obviously poses a legal problem). There are also widespread fraud regarding log entries for maintenance of the machines; Officers literally xerox old logs, change the dates, and put them back into the official record. This has also been upheld by the Court; Go through the archives on the blog, you'll find all the citations you need there.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470613)

We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street. Seriously. It was upheld on the basis that he could have gotten in a motor vehicle, because he had his car keys on him. Bonus: The car didn't even run.

Shades of "The Minority Report." Too bad his lawyer didn't bring up the point that alcohol levels go down as time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin' into the future.

It's not the only state by far (5, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470655)

Most if not all states will lock up mentally ill people if they are a danger to themselves or others. The difference is that it's not "for life" but rather just until the next hearing, which may be anywhere from less than a week for a person just entering the mental-health-court system to more than a year away for those who have obvious, chronic, problems that can't be sufficiently treated to allow the person to be released. The other difference is that it's to a locked mental hospital not to a prison.

Also, many if not most states treat "highly dangerous sex offenders" basically the same way as MN under "civil commitment" laws. There may be a trial, but it's typically a civil trial and by the time the state decides they want to keep you locked up, they've got enough evidence to convince a jury to the level required in a civil case. In some states this is for a period of time and they have to do a new trial but the reality is, once you've been locked up under civil commitment, you likely won't get out until your health deteriorates from old age enough that even if you still hold dangerous attitudes you won't be a danger to the public if released.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470693)

In other words, you serve your sentence, and then an unappealable, arbitrary decision, by one guy, can have you spend the rest of your life in jail.

It sounds like you believe the sole purpose of prison is revenge against the offender. I don't want to live in a society where that's the purpose of justice.

Re:Minnesota, eh. (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470881)

It sounds like you believe the sole purpose of prison is revenge against the offender. I don't want to live in a society where that's the purpose of justice.

There's no belief here. Our country has the highest per capita incarceration rate of any country. Any [wikipedia.org] . And the rate accelerated dramatically since 1980, and continues to climb steeply year by year. Obviously this is not a sustainable trend; But it's quite clear that America has a very different perspective on what "Justice" is than the rest of the world... I'll leave you to your own opinions on what that perspective is. We also have the highest rate of capital punishment of any country, though if you removed Texas from the statistics, we would lose that distinction... so it is debatable. And we continue to expand extrajudiciary action: Guantanamo bay, seizing foreign nationals on foreign soil and indefinately detaining them... and we are also exporting our own citizens to other countries for indefinite detainment under semi-secret reciprocity agreements.

There is little doubt in the international community that the United States has become a police state, and continues to expand its use of military and covert force to extend its judiciary practices worldwide.

Too Bad (3, Interesting)

GeneralTurgidson (2464452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470341)

I'm of the mindset that even a little alcohol in your system should keep you off the road. Alcohol affects people in different ways, what may be fine for you isn't fine for me. If you wan to have a drink, don't plan on driving.

Re:Too Bad (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470397)

Then it's YOU who should stay off the road. If It's fine for me, I should be able to make that decision for myself. Nanny-state douchebag.

Re:Too Bad (3, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470555)

Say that when a drunk crashes through your front door, or hits your parked car, or runs into your kid on the side walk, or hits an electrical box in front of your house. Should all those people have been free to decide whatever too? How about when you, with your perfect knowledge of how to drive is stopped at a red light and a drunk careens into the back of your car?

Sort of by definition if your judgment is impaired you're not capable of making a judgment about when its safe to drive. Governments then take the view that at some point the average person becomes sufficiently impaired that they cannot be safely on the road, and then hammer this point into you when you're sober in the hopes that you'll remember when you're drunk (or that someone sober will keep you from killing yourself or someone else).

It's the government being nanny state douchebags telling you what to do, and it's not doing enough to keep stupid people off the road when they crash into you and yours.

Re:Too Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470839)

Say that when a drunk *doesn't* crash through your front door, or hit your parked car, or run into your kid on the side walk.

Do you always act as if the less likely outcome is more likely?

(buys lotto ticket)
Say that when you hear on the news tomorrow that I won the lottery! There! Take that!

Re:Too Bad (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470955)

Trying to be dramatic requires being dramatic...

The most likely occurrence is certainly the drunk careening into a parked or stopped car. Although I have been in a bank when a drunk crashed through the door in the middle of an afternoon.

Re:Too Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470851)

Been in a couple of those cases you mention personally. Hell, I've been in the case that the person never got caught and the bill fell on me. I still don't think that any alcohol means no driving. Having a limit is worthwhile, and that limit will be different for different people. For the most part, the things that really matter are going to be at about the same level for everyone (BAC wise; bigger people can drink more because it literally hasn't reached the same level of intoxication for them yet, and men also can have a slight bit more, because biologically, men metabolize more alcohol earlier in the stomach than women, so women get objectively intoxicated off of less alcohol than men--subjectively, that's not always the case, but there's a reason field sobriety tests test the things they do that the alcohol affects people generally at the same level regardless of general tolerance or ability to just walk straight from having so much experience with it). The only part that matters is that some people should stop sooner than those limits if they intend to drive (or not drink at all for some, even, but that is definitely not at all everyone), because they get reckless at the lower level of intoxication already.

Re:Too Bad (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470991)

Agreed. There's a risk tolerance question. I posted in reply to someone below (but in reply to the same OP) something a bit more sophisticated. There's no meaningful dropoff in performance up to about 0.04 BAC, after that everyone starts to perform worse more or less equally. Beyond that it's really a matter for politicians to decide how much risk and what cost benefit is appropriate.

Re:Too Bad (3, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470833)

Alright, I'm willing to compromise here.

You're free to drive drunk if you want. If you get into any accident whatsoever, there is a mandatory death sentence (maybe I'd be willing to further compromise to life without parole), and all of your personal assets are transferred to the victim(s).

If you want to take the gamble, go for it. Currently, you force that gamble on other people every time you put your idiot drunk ass behind the wheel.

This should in no way imply that I'm on the cops' side on this one though. Screw implied consent, screw checkpoints, and screw all of the other abuses of the citizenry that happens in the name of protecting us from drunk drivers. That said, above all else, screw people like you for making it necessary because you think you're special and are able to drive while impaired.

--Jeremy

Re:Too Bad (1)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470841)

It might be fine for you. It might not be so fine for the motorcyclist you knock off and kill.

Re:Too Bad (2, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470429)

So what you are saying is...this is some sort of religious conviction of yours? Because, I am of the opinion that the limits have been set so ridiculously low in some places that the law is a joke....a bad joke.

But hey, who cares that some studies even showed a person to be more safe after one drink. This isn't about safety, its about the perception of safety.

Re:Too Bad (5, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470737)

http://www.fatiguescience.com/assets/pdf/Alcohol-Fatigue.pdf

Such as figure 1B, which shows, on average, how mean relative performance always decreases with any alcohol (albeit trivially up to about 0.04)

or http://addictions.uchicago.edu/carl/DandAlcDependence%20Brumback.pdf

That shows only with low doses of alcohol (under about 0.042 BAC) can you not really notice a drop in performance, and after that everyone, heavy drinkers or not perform worse in cognitive tasks and that the heavy and non heavy drinking groups mirror each other in performance.

I'd give more links but if you aren't on a university campus or somewhere else that they're free it's sort of futile, and I don't really want to keep mashing links until I find ones that work without academic library access (and where I am has a med school so we're subscribed to medical journals, places without a med school might not).

But hey, why not make up some facts that 'some studies' support your argument so you can create a perception of authority without providing those studies and when the most easily findable studies (when searching for terms like cognitive impairment and blood alcohol level, and other obvious search terms produce results that disagree with you?).

Now your first line, you hit the nail on the head, before you joined the nutter bin. It's clear that BAC less than about 0.04 has so little impairment (even though it is there) you need very large sample sizes for that effect to not get lost in noise. That applies to heavy and mild drinkers equally. So if where you live has a BAC requirement of less than 0.04 they're probably playing theatre or moral/religious grounds than evidence based policy. Anyone who's at about 0.05 or worse is making a judgment call on just how much measurable impairment is tolerable, which is all science can do. Politicians have to decide risk tolerance and cost benefit analysis, science merely quantifies the effect that creates risk, and sometimes the risk itself.

Re:Too Bad (1)

Ziggitz (2637281) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470921)

But hey, who cares that some studies even showed a person to be more safe after one drink. This isn't about safety, its about the perception of safety.

"Some Studies"

I call bullshit.

How many studies, what kind of peer review, how many dissenting studies? You don't get to cite "some studies" without so much as a fucking link as license to push any opinion you like. Let me guess, one time you came across a link stating that one drink make drivers safer, you didn't read the study and you made no effort to be skeptical because you liked the conclusion. At least have the honesty to say you really don't give a fuck that you drink and drive and that evidence isn't important, only the perception of evidence.

Re:Too Bad (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470929)

This isn't about safety, its about the perception of safety.

This is about safety.

Drunk driving kills approximately 40 times as many people as terrorism, about 8000 drunk drivers and 4000 people that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, making it one of the top causes of death by trauma (the other contenders for this dubious honor being other car accidents, poisoning, suicide, falls, and homicide). It's a serious problem, and is a reasonable area for government to try to do something about it.

I'm not against getting drunk. I'm against drunk people killing and injuring those around them.

Re:Too Bad (1, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470523)

If you wan to have a drink, don't plan on driving.

Gotta get the car home so I can get to work tomorrow.

If they didn't want people to drink and drive home, then they'd NOT have all those nice large parking lots outside of the bars.

Drive past one that's open....see the cars in the lot. Drive past after closing time...see how many cars have left.

Do you even slightly think that even a minority of those people drove home below the 'limit', or had a designated driver? Please...don't kid yourself.

It is behavior that is sanctioned, and yet prosecuted for high revenue gain...

Re:Too Bad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470603)

Alcohol affects people in different ways, what may be fine for you isn't fine for me.

Yes... and the solution is not your proposal of any alcohol means no driving. The solution is being responsible for your damn self and knowing how the shit affects you. If you can't drive after even one drink, then fucking don't. If I can without any issues of safety or decreased driving ability (especially when had with a big meal that the alcohol hasn't even had time to absorb into my system fast enough, because it hasn't been sucked out of the food that it was absorbed into yet), then let me drive and get the fuck off my lawn. And if some fuck abuses that responsibility and kills someone, then said person needs to take responsibility and take the consequences or find a new life where he can forget that it ever happened.

Re:Too Bad (2)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470887)

I completely agree. Any alcohol in my system, whatsoever, and I don't drive. I take a look at when I plan to depart, and have no more than one drink per hour that I plan on being there. Further, no alcohol for the last hour. Simple rules. By the time I get to the car, I'm as stone-cold sober as when I arrived. (For some people, this is still too much, depends on body mass, etc.).

However, translating my own rules on that to the law? No. If you're talking about a "zero-tolerance" law for drivers who are not of legal drinking age, that I can understand as a combination of two laws (license-to-drive and consumption-of-alcohol), and I could be convinced of a graduated system through about 25 (when most peoples' brains are finished growing). Beyond that, no. The law should be entirely based on the best currently-available medical science. (Which, of course, it isn't now, either.)

I'm still a firm believer in due process. And we don't have that today, either. (Thanks a lot, MADD. Where's the ACLU on this?)

Cost/Benefit (-1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470347)

I suspect that the judge placed some emphasis on the cost of re-trying all of the cases that are based on this piece of equipment, in light of its obsolescence moving foreword. As a minnesotan, I don't necessarily approve, but I would expect that the majority of those covicted with this equipment truely were drunk.

Re:Cost/Benefit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470387)

Hopefully, one day, you'll be incorrectly lumped in with a majority accused of a crime and someone in a position of power won't give a damn about your rights or freedoms.

Re:Cost/Benefit (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470937)

That's awfully charitable of you.

Look, I said I don't approve, but at the same time I suspect that the majority of the convictions are correct. Those that are incorrect did have a chance to their day in court. That doesn't make it any better for those falsely convicted, but then again I never said it would

Probably guilty? (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470423)

As a minnesotan, I don't necessarily approve, but I would expect that the majority of those covicted with this equipment truely were drunk.

So your argument is that someone should be wrongly convicted because a bunch of other people probably were guilty? I pray you never become a judge.

Re:Probably guilty? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470635)

As a minnesotan, I don't necessarily approve, but I would expect that the majority of those covicted with this equipment truely were drunk.

So your argument is that someone should be wrongly convicted because a bunch of other people probably were guilty? I pray you never become a judge.

... and that the wrongly convicted should stay that way, because clearing their names would just be too darn expensive.

Re:Probably guilty? (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470947)

what part of "I don't approve" didn't you understand?

Re:Probably guilty? (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471005)

I'm not a judge, and that affords me the luxury of taking the long view. Knowing what I do about the case (which is practically nothing), I don't believe I would have made the same decision, but since it was not my decision to make I comfort myself with the belief that the majority of the convictions were not of innocent parties.

Re:Cost/Benefit (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470629)

I suspect that the judge placed some emphasis on the cost of re-trying all of the cases that are based on this piece of equipment, in light of its obsolescence moving foreword

I suspect your thought process would be much easier to parse if you knew how to spell, but I digress...

In other words, actual justice is just too darn expensive? As far as piss-poor excuses go, that one ranks pretty fucking high.

Re:Cost/Benefit (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471037)

I didn't say it was a good excuse. I didn't even say it was an action I approved of. I was GUESSING at the judges motivations. I think it helps at least a little that first offense DUI convictions do not result in prison time, and usually not even in a suspended license, but it is still a miscarriage of justice.

Re:Cost/Benefit (2)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470657)

And I'm sure that the minority who weren't drunk will be satisfied to know that you think "the majority were drunk" is good enough reason not to overrule their convictions.

Re:Cost/Benefit (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470753)

It was recently discovered that Texas had executed an innocent man (the real person was found wandering the streets). I don't necessarily approve, but I would expect that the majority of those covicted truely were murders, and if a few innocent people are on deathrow... oh well. /end sarcasm

Re:Cost/Benefit (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471071)

An how many states use the death penalty as a punishment for DUI?

Their are degrees that your oversimplification ignore. Most first offense DUI convictions don't even end up in a suspended license, just a fine.

Re:Cost/Benefit (5, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470759)

Whatever happened to the idea that it's better to let ten guilty men go free than to wrongly imprison one innocent man that this country's justice system was once based on?

Re:Cost/Benefit (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471147)

It's not an either/or scenario you are describing. All tests (which a court case can be described as) have a two types of errors. Type 1 errors are false negatives and Type 2 are false positives. Decreasing one usually does increase the other, but you can never eliminate either of them. In this case the consequence of a false conviction is relatively minor as compared with the consequence of a false conviction in a murder case. 1st offense DUI convictions frequently don't even end up in a suspended drivers license, just a fine. That sucks, but it's not the same thing as the state executing a falsely convicted death row inmate as a previous commenter used as a comparison. Also keep in mind that most sobriety tests are administered AFTER the driver has given the police probable cause to request one (driving recklessly, speeding, swerving, smelling of alcohol, presence of an open container, etc.).

How about polygraphs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470367)

No, I have no interest in having drunks driving on our streets and doing even more harm to society than they already do, but application of law must not be arbitrary and capricious: it's the prosecution's job to show that the evidence is reliable "beyond a reasonable doubt." If the software does not meet that criterion then you don't have valid evidence, just as you don't have valid evidence if your "eye witness" wasn't there at the time.

PF

smoking pot is betterer (0, Offtopic)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470405)

If you drink and drive, what happens? You go speeding around like a lunatic asshole and kill people.
If you smoke out and drive, what happens? You go 10mph under the speed limit and still miss your exit. Then you spend 15 minutes lost in a cloverleaf trying to turn around. Then you drive at 10mph under the limit and you STILL miss your exit, so you end up at a 7-11 getting some Soda pop and a sack of chips and chocolate bars but it's too hard to figure out the change, so you let the guy behind the counter do it, and then you pig out enough that your head clears long enough that you DON'T miss your exit and you end up watching Tim and Eric's Awesome Show Good Job! or Wonder Showzen reruns until you fall asleep in the barcalounger.

True story.

Re:smoking pot is betterer (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470579)

You go speeding around like a lunatic asshole and kill people.

Actually....that is the one and only time that I ever bother to try to follow the speed limits.

When I'm stone cold sober, I drive as fast as I like which is usually very fast. I only look at the speedometer when the radar detector goes off, or if on the highway, I know of a 'bear trap' from the CB radio. I don't drink and drive on the hwy, since I'm usually wanting to get somewhere fast, usually averaging 90-95mph most of the time. But around town, if I've been at the bar all night....I drive back roads, and go the posted speed limits.

Re:smoking pot is betterer (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470733)

Yea sure. I've watched people who were obviously high do really stupid shit, like start crossing the intersection in the "going forward lane" then cutting over to turn left, nearly causing a 3-car accident because people in the turn lane were fucking turning.

If you are inebriated - BY ANYTHING - then stay the FUCK off the road.

Attacking the problem from the wrong end. (1, Offtopic)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470481)

Want to know why drunk driving is so endemic in the United States?

Here's a hint:

most bars in the US are in towns and suburbs where they are not served by public transit, AND, the are required to have parking spots for all their customers.

If ever there was a business that should be forbidden to have customer parking, it's a bar.

Of all the things about liquor laws in the US, this is the most insane.

most people I know drink responsibly (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470883)

I see nothing wrong with having a pint and driving home. Even several pints, if I'm there for several hours.

Caveat--I'm a 6' 200lb male. My 95lb female friend may require different standards.

Re:most people I know drink responsibly (0)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470979)

Of course you see nothing wrong with it. And neither do many people.

And that's why we have a drunk driving problem.

Re:most people I know drink responsibly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40471015)

One pint will not put you anywhere near the BAC limit.

Re:most people I know drink responsibly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40471093)

If you have no apreciable BAC, there is no problem. In short, you are either actually fine or your math is off and you need to correct for the macho bias of "I'm fine". People who are not fine tend to think they are, people who tend to think they are and don't get into an accident this time tend to think so stronger the next time. Buy a growler drink it after driving.

Re:Attacking the problem from the wrong end. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470983)

As glib as your point may be to some, it has basic resonance to me, in basic logistics.

Let's also admit that civil and criminal liability for servers is almost nil; generally, they only way a server is cited is if there's a fatality. The crime of drunk driving may be the driver's fault, but he's not the only one responsible for his intoxication. Ordering round after round of shots should put even the most obtuse on notice that the customers will be intoxicated. If bars risked going out of business every night, like their customers do they might change their policies in terms of service.

N/A beer, a variety of soft drinks, food /entertainment discounts, and other incentives for sober drivers are extremely rare.

People like to talk about "free" cab rides available for those who are intoxicated, but these programs come and go so frequently, they can't be relied-on by anyone.

America has a drinking problem that is far more ubiquitous than any illegal drug, yet due to tradition, lobbying, and denial, it remains one we can't reconcile with public health and safety. Draconian laws are out-of-phase with societal norms, and often fail to correct chronic offenders.

Re:Attacking the problem from the wrong end. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471135)

Want to know why drunk driving is so endemic in the United States? most bars in the US are in towns and suburbs where they are not served by public transit, AND, the are required to have parking spots for all their customers.

Then explain Springfield, IL. You can't throw a beer bottle in this town without hitting a bar with it; there are at least five within staggering distance from my house. Yet folks here still get plastered and drive.

Buggy software (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470485)

Who knew they still made software for buggies?

Re:Buggy software (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470559)

Another case of the legal system putting the cart before the horse.

Nice. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470489)

Known bad device is the sole determiner of guilt/innocence, as its results cannot be challenged, and pending cases based on potentially bad evidence are allowed to go forward, with a bonus that the devices are still in use in some jurisdictions. WTH, Minnesota?

Re:Nice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470875)

Downvote the truth. Typical of /. these days. Everything above is in the fecking article.

if you drink, don't drive (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470509)

its not that hard.
drink at home.
get a designated driver
take a cab home or the bus or he train

if you're drunk and in your car and get caught i have no sympathy for you.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (3, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470569)

What if you're well under the legal limit and perfectly capable of driving safely but some machine says you're extremely drunk?

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470649)

since you're going to be on police cruiser candid camera i'm sure you won't have any trouble passing the field tests

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470785)

I can't pass the field tests sober, so that doesn't mean jack.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471057)

Then you probably should not be operating a motor vehicle when sober either.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470821)

What, like the test where the cop waves the pen in front of your face and says "yeah he's drunk, because I said so." Or the one where you blow into the machine and it comes back saying that your body is 5% alcohol, and the judge doesn't see a problem there?

In other words, you're saying that it's OK to have buggy testing equipment, because field tests?

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470923)

I cant pass the Nystagmus Tests either. So it doesnt mean shit.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470573)

He didn't drive.

"We've convicted people of DUI for walking down the street. Seriously. It was upheld on the basis that he could have gotten in a motor vehicle, because he had his car keys on him. Bonus: The car didn't even run."

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470637)

and please link to the case?

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

arose (644256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471123)

If the other guy who claimed this one is to be believed it's because he remembers it locally reported (and everyone reprinting is behind a paywall) and a DUI lawyer said so. Solid evidence in short.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470999)

PreCrime

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470653)

drink at home.

Sometimes fun, can make a boring evening fun...certainly helps TV become more interesting. However...you're not generally gonna get laid drinking at home like you do at a bar, which is one of the main reasons to go.

get a designated driver

Doesn't work that well if you're a 'lone wolf' out on the prowl. And when with friends...well, they're all wanting to have fun too. I guess if you can manage to make friends with a teetotaler, that would help...but hard to find any of those in New Orleans.

take a cab home or the bus or he train

In most cities...no such things as a train home, and public transportation isn't really a viable option. Hell, the buses and all often stop way before closing time 2am or so...

In NOLA, we actually do have cabs as an option, and sometimes, I do take advantage of that...but all the time can get expensive. Most cities I've been too that aren't tourist meccas...cabs aren't really much of a regular viable option.

Besides, it isn't as easy to get laid trying to get the girl to go home with you in a cab...better to get her in your car and drive her home (her house is usually better).

I guess you don't drink or go out and party much...what you say 'sounds' reasonable, but isn't really practical in most cities in the US.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471163)

It is reasonable. Just not convenient enough to you. Well, tough luck, either drink or drive. But then you probably won't get laid that often because of higher standards when sober.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470669)

if you're drunk and in your car and get caught i have no sympathy for you.

It's attitudes like this that cause people to drive drunk.

If someone's drunk and wants to do the responsible thing (i.e. sleep it off and not drive until sober), there is no incentive to do that because the penalty for waiting until sober is the same as the penalty for driving drunk. So might as well drive drunk and roll the dice.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470889)

You can do the responsible thing and sleep in a non operational seat with your keys more than an arms length away and not in the ignition. That demonstrates that you had no intent of operating your car. Also it helps if you don't have three other prior convictions for DWI.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470963)

the penalty for waiting until sober is the same as the penalty for driving drunk

Which penalty are we talking about, the one where you pay a fine or the one where you end up killed or maimed?

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#40471125)

Well, sleeping in your car drunk is less likely to get you or someone else killed. So that's an incentive.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470771)

Sure, I'd love to take a cab and pay almost $50 for the privilege...

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40471029)

take a cab home or the bus or he train

I tried that. I got convicted of both DUI and Grand Theft Auto.

if you're drunk and in your car and get caught i have no sympathy for you.

See, the people here are trying to claim that they weren't drunk, that the device made a mistake due to buggy software. It was shown that there ARE bugs there that could make a sober person show up as drunk. That should throw the evidence into question.

Re:if you drink, don't drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40471149)

If you've had even one or two drinks, your judgment may be affected.

Do you think drunk, or even mildly intoxicated people often make good, or informed decisions?

How about car accidents - there are tons of statistics trotted out every time the case is made for stronger DUI laws.
I have an answer that's far more cogent with the rule of law and egalitarian justice. Let's test everyone involved in an accident all the time (no exceptions) and apply the law more evenly, if we really want to reduce these horrible numbers, instead of skewing it towards people who happen pull out of a bar parking lot at 2am.

On what planet? (2, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470531)

How did we come to a place where a judge can simply decide a machine, which has been proven unreliable, is in fact reliable? How will these people sleep at night knowing they are punishing people who were innocent? Is our whole society run by sociopaths now?

Re:On what planet? (5, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470605)

no, it was proved the software has bugs. all software has bugs. all software has always had bugs. airplane software has bugs. my honda CR-V was just patched for a transmission software bug. i was still able to drive it safely and airplanes don't fall out of the sky daily because of software bugs.

it was up to the defense to prove that the bugs in question return invalid results or increase the margin of error so much as to make the results useless

too bad, all the idiots who choose to drive after drinking more than they should deserve to go to jail. i'll drive a few hours after i have one drink. maybe one and a half. these idiots got drunk and drove a car

Re:On what planet? (3, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470775)

According to the article, cellphones in close proximity to the device can effect the accuracy of its results. Based on this ruling, defendants charged based on results from this equipment will not be able to challange the reliability of the results due to the proximity of a cell-phone, even though it is known to be an issue! How can you honestly not have a problem with that? Are you so blinded by your hatred of drunk drivers that you don't even believe people accused of it should have a right to a fair trial?

Re:On what planet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40470927)

pussy

Re:On what planet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40471141)

Known bugs, however rare, which have been proven to the satisfaction of the court to produce misleading results, cannot be used as a part of any defense, regardless of whether the conditions of the test were conducive to triggering said bugs. The machine has been ruled de facto infallible, when the court /knows/ that it is not. This is akin to simply declaring that peace officers are fortune tellers, and are able to determine guilt/innocence without the benefit of a trial altogether -- the trial is naught but smoke and mirrors if your guilt/innocence is determined prior to a review of the evidence.

Re:On what planet? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470689)

'Complacency mixed with the Culture of Fear,'

'like fuckin' babies,'

and

'yes, has been for quite some time.'

Re:On what planet? (1)

captjc (453680) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470713)

How will these people sleep at night knowing they are punishing people who were innocent?

On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies?

Good plan to test twice, different equipment (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470545)

When some potlicker tried to follow me up my driveway, at 2 AM, because "it was too dark to see my tail lights" he was tested at the scene and then tested again "downtown" Registering 0.17

Apprehending officers can also, and often do, use some video and audio at the scene. This guy, rocking back and forth on his feet, because he can hardly keep his balance, was convinced it was all the other driver's fault. Put that on video for the judge to see.

This sounds like... (1)

DaneM (810927) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470619)

...a ruling done to prevent a crap-storm of appeals and further contested DUI charges. I've seen such things happen before, where the ruling has less to do with evidence, and more to do with all the trouble that ruling on such evidence would cause. How much of a headache for law enforcement will it be if their DUI test proves flawed? It's a good thing to consider, even if it probably shouldn't affect the ruling...kind-of a "catch-.22."

so... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470627)

Let's suppose that, for the sake of argument, we know that someone exactly six foot created a crime.

You have six subjects. You get a measuring tape. One person measures exactly six foot.

He's convicted. We find out 2 years later that the measuring stick was two inches off.

According to this the person couldn't appeal based on the fact that the measuring stick was incorrect.

Both are tools. The only difference is one is an electronic, software based tool. Of course, this would mean that the judge didn't think about the system like it was magic.

Re:so... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470847)

A somewhat flawed analogy because the tool is "usually right". It'd be like a measuring tape that, once in a while, stretches or shrinks by a few inches and there's no way to prove, two years later, exactly what height that person was at the time of the crime (maybe he's young and still growing?). Nonetheless, your point of it being a tool that may not always give 100% correct measurements is completely valid.

I just have one question (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470695)

Is this an elected or appointed judge?

He ruled on the case as if he was elected.

Now what does a six-year hold on a DUI case do? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40470843)

Now what does a six-year hold on a DUI case do?

How many cases will just be dropped to clear the load?

The Administrative License Suspension/Revocation maxes out at 1y for the 3rd time.

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