Indiana has a zero tolerance per se drugged driving law. This is a horribly unjust kind of law that doesn’t actually care about whether drivers are impaired, but rather whether they have evidence of a particular drug in their bloodstream. Since marijuana tends to leave that evidence longer (up to weeks), this kind of law can have a devastating impact â€” drivers in an accident often end up in prison merely due to the metabolites in their blood.
This also means that people are convicted and sent to prison entirely based on the results of a drug test.
Well apparently there were some red flags about some of the results of drug tests from the state’s main Toxicology Lab, and so the Governor’s Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving undertook a “quiet” inquiry to re-examine some past test results.
The Indianapolis Star got wind of it and it became something the state couldn’t hide.
Now the first round of results have been completed.
An Indiana state lab wrongly reported 1 in 10 marijuana cases as positive, including some that were deliberately manipulated, an audit report indicated. […]
The audit’s findings showed errors in about 200 of 2,000 marijuana tests reported to law enforcement as having positive results, the Star said. This includes about 50 results the report said were consciously manipulated by lab workers.
Numerous verdicts could be overturned and cases dismissed, Newman said, although it was not clear if every error led to a wrongful conviction.
The revelations are “shocking” and “inexcusable,” state Public Defender Council Executive Director Larry Landis told the newspaper.
“If they’re manipulating data, how can you rely on anything they do?” he said. “We’re talking about people’s lives.”
The audit, conducted by outside scientists, was originally going to cover every case with a positive lab result from 2007 to 2009 — more than 10,000 overall.
But the initial findings are so troubling Newman will probably extend the audit back to 2006, he told the Star.
The lab, established in the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1957, seeks to provide “science-based support for the impaired and dangerous driving program and other criminal justice efforts for the State of Indiana,” the lab’s Web site says.
Let the lawsuits begin.