The medical examiner of Broward County, Florida has announced that, in 3,600 drug tests over the past 10 years, the medical examiner’s office did not follow proper procedures to validate toxicology tests in cases involving alleged drug use, including DUI cases.
The mistake was discovered by newly appointed Broward County Examiner Craig Mallack who notified the State Attorney via a letter. In the letter, Mallack said, “I made an immediate decision to shut down the lab and have samples sent to an external accredited laboratory. Most likely the results provided to the State Attorneys Office in the past have been accurate. But approximately 3,600 individual cases over the last 10 years will be reviewed.”
The test results may still be accurate. However, according to Mallack, “the methods used to extract the information were not previously scientifically validated.” As a result of the error, DUI cases, DUI manslaughter cases, and other cases involving drug testing might be inaccurate giving defendants and defense attorneys a legal basis for a new trial.
Improper procedures were followed in testing for cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, and other over-the-counter drugs that may affect a person’s driving ability, to name a few. Apparently procedures for testing alcohol or PCP were conducted properly.
It is amazing that it has taken this long to catch this error. Let’s imagine a little hypothetical: the very first test conducted using this faulty procedure was, in fact, incorrect and someone is wrongfully convicted of DUI manslaughter. That person could still be in jail while being completely innocent.