Miller's lawsuit claims the manufacturer does not inform its customers that the test results can be skewed by outside substances, such as hand sanitizer or aftershave.
Miller, 46, was on probation for a drunk driving conviction when a court-ordered EtG test showed that he had been drinking, a violation of his probation. Miller knew that he had not had a drink, but he was sent to jail.
At his probation hearing, one of the physicians that helped develop the tests for use in the United States testified on Miller's behalf. Dr. Gregory Skipper said studies have shown that the EtG test results can be affected by many common items, including sanitizers, mouthwash, sauerkraut and even bananas.
'Tests Aren't Perfect'
"There's so many people getting tested for these tests, EtG/EtS, some small percent may be positive because of extraneous alcohol," Dr. Skipper testified. "If 100,000 people are getting tested and only 0.1 percent are being falsely accused, that's still 100 people. It's not perfect. It's pretty good, but if you want to not punish innocent people, what's our tolerance for that? If it's zero, then we've got a problem with that because these tests aren't perfect."
Miller's lawsuit claims that Redwood has continued to market its tests as accurate in spite of an advisory issued in 2006 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that relying on the biomarker test as the sole basis for taking legal action was "inappropriate and scientifically unsupportable."
Spent 135 Days in Jail
Miller's lawsuit claims the company has continued to sell its tests and suppress their faults merely to maintain profitability.
At his probation hearing, the judge ruled that Miller had provided sufficient evidence that his test was affected by his incidental contact with paint thinner and hand sanitizer prior to the urine test. The Judge ordered him released, but Miller had spent 135 days in jail waiting on the hearing.
News Source: David Hanners, Pioneer Press. Man sues lab over accuracy of Alcohol Test. Jan. 19, 2001. Related Information: