There will be checkpoints running tonight in San Clemente and Saturday night in Garden Grove aimed at removing drunken drivers from the road and putting them before judges.
But for a couple thousand souls who were either arrested of, convicted of or pleaded guilty to drunken driving in Orange County, Christmas has arrived in the form of letters from prosecutors informing them the Crime Lab mucked up blood-alcohol results in some cases.
A routine audit of lab results revealed some data was not properly saved from April through the start of October, according to the Orange County Crime Lab. "The error's been fixed and this won't happen again," Bruce Houlihan, director of the Orange County Crime Lab, told City News Service.
But the revelation led to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) to take another look at 3,000 DUI cases, of which 2,200 led to convictions. Only about 200 cases resulted in slight adjustments when factoring in the correct blood-alcohol percentages, and only 20 of those dropped the magic number below the legal limit of .08 percent, reports the OCDA.
But Farrah Emami, the OCDA spokeswoman, noted that her agency has won convictions even with drivers who blew 0.7 percent. Nonetheless, she told the news service her agency sent letters out to 900 defendants whose cases were resolved and defense attorneys in 1,300 pending cases to inform them of the crime lab errors. And she suggested anyone who was arrested on suspicion of DUI between April and October ask their attorneys how to proceed.
"The large majority of our cases will not be impacted," Emami said.
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The crime lab ship will no doubt have been set on the correct course by 6 p.m. this evening, when the Orange County Sheriff's Department runs its DUI/driver's license checkpoint through 2 a.m. Saturday in San Clemente.
The Garden Grove Police Department operation runs from 9 p.m. Saturday through 3 a.m. Sunday.
Neither agency provided the exact locations of their checkpoints, which are funded by grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.