Convictions Thrown Out After Police Caught Paying Labs for Positive DUI Test Results
Nashville – The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that individuals cannot be convicted of “Driving Under the Influence” if their test results come from forensics labs that receive financial incentives for positive results to lead to their convictions.
It may seem like an obvious conclusion, but the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has been generating around $3 million in revenue each year from the $250 fine motorists are forced to pay for the test, if they are convicted.
The decision stemmed from the case of Rosemary Decosimo vs. the State of Tennessee. She was joined by more than 20 defendants who had also been charged with DUIs in the same county. They argued that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had a clear incentive to produce positive DUI test results and that the $250 it was receiving for “each DUI conviction that is obtained using a blood or breath test, is unconstitutional.”
In a ruling on the case, Judge Camille R. McMullen sided with Decosimo, noting it has been well established that “fines and fees should not be used to generate revenue for a court or government agency,” and it was unclear how Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation was using the entirety of the funds it received from DUI convictions.
Both the version of the statute that was in effect at the time of Decosimo’s arrest and the current version of Code section 55-10-413(f) state that the money from the $250 BADT fee shall be deposited in the TBI toxicology unit intoxicant testing fund “for exclusive use by the TBI” and shall be used to “fund a forensic scientist position in each of the three bureau crime laboratories, to employ forensic scientists to fill these positions, and to purchase equipment and supplies, pay for the education, training and