CEDAR RAPIDS – The Iowa Attorney General’s office has asked a state-launched website that allows the public and law enforcment to search for breath alcohol test results to shut down, Wednesday.
“The Attorney General’s Office thinks there may be some conflict, it may violate trial publicity laws,” Criminalist Jim Bleskacek of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said. “The Attorney General’s office asked us to temporarily shut it down. They are in the process of talking with county attorney’s on how to address the situation.”
Attorney General’s Office spokesman Geoff Greenwood confirmed a number of county attorneys expressed concern about the website to the office, stating the information “may be prejudicial to a defendant before their day in court.”
“Law enforcement and prosecutors have restrictions on what they can release about a defendant before they face trial, that is to ensure that a defendant receives a fair trial,” Greenwood said. “Same could be said about a DNA test result or fingerprint result, that’s all governed by ethical standards, and some county attorney’s expressed concerns about these test results appearing on this website.”
“Out of an abundance of caution, the Department of Public Safety took down the website at least for now while we work through those issues,” Greenwood said.
The office declines to confirm whether or not they asked the Department of Public Safety to shut down the website.
“I can’t really discuss legal advice we’ve given another agency,” Greenwood said. “Several county attorney’s expressed concerns about the website, which we relayed to the Department of Public Safety.”
The website permits the public and law enforcement to search for breath alcohol test results, certification records on breath test machines and officers’ alcohol training status. There are close to 25,000 tests currently on the site, according to Bleskacek.
Bleskacek got wind of matter Tuesday, and the website was down around 4:35 p.m. later that day.
“We don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s right to a fair trial,” Bleskacek said. “So the easiest thing to do was to shut it down.”
He is unknown when the site will be up and running again, but he is supposed to receive some feedback from the County Attorney’s office around 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“It may go back up. We may eliminate a column like date of birth, test time or date, or something like that,” Bleskacek said. “All things are being discussed right now.”