Faulty drug-testing procedures call into question hundreds of DUI cases

Broward Medical Examiner Craig Mallak told State Attorney Mike Satz on Tuesday that his office improperly validated its drug testing procedures in all DUI cases in which Medical Examiner’s office performed the testing, before Aug. 24, 2012.

Officials have no way of knowing at this stage how many cases may be affected by the improper drug testing procedures. Prosecutors have already been instructed to review their pending cases to make sure issues are resolved before trial. Satz said his office will have to review successful prosecutions on a case-by-case basis. Defense lawyers as well are preparing to review hundreds of criminal and civil cases due to the flaw in testing procedures.

The improper procedure was performed when testing for drugs including, but not limited to, hydrocodone, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, amphetamines, Valium, Xanax, sleeping pills and other over-the-counter medications that impede a persons ability to drive.

Mallak said before he arrived on the job, the office failed to recognize changing professional standards for the proper validation of drug testing procedures, which are designed to ensure accurate toxicology reports. Had the office been accredited, Mallak said, it’s more likely the oversight would have been corrected sooner.

Mallak said he discovered the problem while preparing to seek accreditation from the College of American Pathologists. In response to a question related to the drug testing procedures employed Mallack said, “I would question all of them, because they arose without using the appropriate method validation to start with.”

Mallak said that pending cases are salvageable because the blood and urine samples obtained for testing are still at the Medical Examiner’s Office.

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