DPS Breath Test Technical Supervisor Glenn Merkord suspended

Here is a link to the Houston Chronicle article. A few weeks ago, I went to trial in Montgomery County on a breath test DWI. Thanks to the awesome investigative work of our expert Ray McMains (formerly with DPS and responsible for this (Read the Dee Wallace story), we hit gold when Merkord was posed this question: “Do you ever follow the rules?” His answer: “No.”

The questions referred to whether or not he followed the DPS Standard Operating Guidelines. Specifically, whether or not Merkord ever performed required quality control checks when removing when removing a machine from its current testing environment. The purpose of these checks is to insure that the machine can detect interferents in the air, like acetone, that could produce a false positive high result on a subject’s breath test. In other words, if the machine didn’t guard against interferents a person’s breath test could appear much higher than what it actually is and the evidence would be unreliable but could still be used against them in court.

Glenn Merkord, the man entrusted by DPS to oversee several breath test machines to insure their reliability and to insure proper scientific procedures are being followed, failed to do his job. He not only failed to do his job, he failed to READ the job requirements. The Standard Operating Guidelines consist of only 8 pages.

Breathilizer & SOGThe required acetone check procedure is right on the very first page. Glen Merkord said not only does he Never do this acetone check upon removal of a machine but that he didn’t even know he was supposed to be doing it. This testimony shined some unwanted light on Glenn Merkord from DPS. They began investigating him and they found out that he was improperly certifying breath test operators also. The result has been that Glenn Merkord is suspended, they took his keys from him and the breath tests of the wrongly certified breath test operators have been determined to be illegally obtained and the evidence will not be able to be used. The Montgomery County DA’s office is having to dismiss cases because of Merkord’s violations.

My concern is that how can we really know that Merkord wrongfully certified ONLY 2 breath test operators? If he isn’t familiar with the SOGs how can he be the one in charge of making sure the operators are following the required rules. I suspect that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that we will uncover more bad breath tests and more illegally certified breath test operators.

DPS has a person in charge of looking at Technical Supervisors. An auditor for DPS looks to other Technical Supervisors work to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. Follow the rules, insure compliance with the Standard Operating Guidelines, properly maintain and calibrate breath test machines. Where is the auditor in this mess? Either the auditor is doing their job and was aware of Glenn Merkord’s mistakes, violations and illegal certifications and covered it up or the alternative is that the auditor is not doing the job either and is completely unaware of renegades like Glenn Merkord.

I don’t know what is more disturbing.

 

DWI Cases Jeopordized

18 Day Period over Holiday Results in over 1,800 DWI Arrests in Texas

Over an 18 day “Special Enforcement Period” which included the Labor Day weekend, Texas DPS made 1,859 DWI arrests across the state.
Texas DPS received a special grant funded by the Texas Department of Transportation which allowed more patrolling hours concentrated in “high risk” locations during the times when alcohol-related crashes are most frequent.

This DPS effort also resulted in 25,000 speeding citations, 3,800 Seat Belt/Child Safety Seat citations, 1,190 fugitive arrests and 877 felony charges.

Texas DPS Amnesty Program Ends, Indigency Program is Born

Unfortunately, DPS has ended their Amnesty Program with no plan on offering another amnesty period in the future BUT you may still have a chance to catch a break on surcharge fees. The Texas Legislature recently authorized an Indigency program that will provide drivers with a chance to pay surcharge fees owed and maintain driving privileges. The Indigency program will not eliminate surcharge fees entirely but will reduce the surcharge fee amount.

The DPS Indigency Program was authorized for individuals living at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. All individuals interested in the program will have to complete an application with will include a signed/notarized affidavit.

Once an application is approved for the Indigency program, DPS will reduce the amount of surcharge fees owed by 10%, not to exceed $250. DPS will remove the suspension from the individuals driver’s license while payments are being made.

If you have any surcharge fees assessed on or after September 30, 2004, you are eligible for the reduction provided you are approved by DPS.

To Apply: Fill out and submit to DPS the application including the affidavit (affidavit must be signed and notarized) provided below. You can also call DPS at (866) 223-3583 and have the application mailed to your residence. I have also provided a link below to the DPS website which will provide you with addition, more detailed instruction.

NOTE: Inmates may also apply for the Indigency program. There is a link to an unsworn declaration (for inmates only) included on the DPS surcharge website and at the link below.

Poverty Level Chart (Health and Human Services Department):

Texas DPW Indigency Program

Important Links:

Texas DPS Indigency Program:

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/Indigence.aspx

Texas DPS Indigency Application, Instructions and Affidavit:

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/IndigencyAffidavitEnglish.PDF

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/IndigencyInstructionsEnglish.pdf

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/UnswornDeclarations.pdf

Texas DPS Surcharge Website:

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/default.aspx

NOTE: Tyler Flood is a DWI Defense Attorney in Houston who is providing helpful information for individuals who may qualify for the Texas DPS Surcharge Indigency Program. The Firm, unfortunately, cannot help process applications or answer any further questions. Please contact the Texas Department of Public Safety Municipal Services Bureau (MSB) at (800) 688-6882. Agents are available from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 6 pm Friday, and 8 am to 12 pm Saturday. You can also email the MSB by click on the link below and filling out the provided form.

https://www.txsurchargeonline.com/ContactUs.aspx

The Great Texas Warrant Round Up is Back!

Starting February 25, 2012, 260 law enforcement agencies around the State of Texas will be making visits to homes, businesses and schools to arrest people who currently have active warrants. Usually before a warrant round up agencies will have an amnesty period…not this time. Just a little heads up to get those warrants paid before you find yourself in handcuffs.