Dismissed... A word that's being heard all too frequently in down at Metro Court these days. DWI cases being dismissed not because the accused is innocent or guilty for that matter, but because the evidence is shall we say unreliable.
APD uses devices commonly known as breath-a-lizers to determine whether drivers who have been arrested for DWI are actually intoxicated. Of course, drivers have the right to decline taking the test but the penalty for doing so is the loss of one's driver's license for a period of a year.
Each APD substation has one of these breath-a-lizers or Intoxilizer 8000s. Like all technology used for law enforcement, these electronic devices are required to be certified yearly. In the case of the Northeast Heights Substation, the Intoxilizer 8000's certification expired September 30th, 2008. Of course, the expiration was not noticed until December 2008. The person who's responsible for making sure that the substation's Intoxilizer remains continuously certified is Wayne Dechano.
When arresting officers go to court one of the things that they must testify to is the certification of the device used to gather the evidence against the accused. The problem is that in every case that involved the Northeast Sub's Intoxilizer officers couldn't truthfully testify that the device was certified. Our Eyes tell us that despite the certification problem, officers were instructed to testify that the "machine is certified."
You might note the use of the present tense. Currently, the Intoxilizer 8000 at the Northeast Sub is certified. However, it wasn't certified between October 1, 2008 and December 2008 for anyone arrested for DWI and taken to the Northeast Sub for testing.
It's bad enough that APD screwed up and continued using a device that wasn't certified and it wouldn't be the first time that someone made a mistake. However, once the error was found officers were not only instructed to bend the truth a bit by testifying to the device's current status, but they attempted to sell it to the rank and file by "certifying" the unit on the word of the very person who failed to make sure the Intoxilizer 8000 was properly certified in the first place.
The photo to the right is of the note placed on the Intoxilizer to "certify" the unity despite the fact that it hadn't been properly certified. Look, we understand the impulse to well... cover your... you know. And the unit itself may have been working just as well on October 1st as it was on September 30th. But the simple fact is the unit's court accepted certification only lasts a year and APD has the same obligation to abide by the rules as everyone else does - arguably even more. Now, cases that could have been won - perhaps should have been won - are being dismissed.
This didn't have to happen. Officers could have used another Intoxilizer. It would have been inconvenient, but the results wouldn't have been open to challenge and the cases subject to dismissal when presented in court. Not surprisingly, APD couldn't keep this snafu under wraps and officers are refusing to bend the truth when testifying and judges are responding by dismissing the cases brought before them.