A state Crime Lab toxicologist who testifies frequently in court about blood alcohol content was charged with driving under the influence after a breath test put his alcohol level at twice the legal driving limit.

The charge last month against Lynn Kurtz is a misdemeanor because, if he’s convicted, it would be a first offense. He’s also charged with rolling through a stop sign, another misdemeanor.

Kurtz will continue to do casework at the Crime Lab while his case proceeds through court, Judy Beck, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office, said Tuesday.

The Crime Lab also is notifying any attorneys who may have subpoenaed Kurtz as an expert witness, she said. Also, the Crime Lab notified its accreditation agency of Kurtz’s arrest.

A Missoula County sheriff’s deputy stopped Kurtz’s black 1994 Chevy just before 11 p.m. on June 25 on Orange Street near the Interstate 90 overpass, according to the report in the case.

When the deputy asked if he’d anything to drink, Kurtz responded, “A couple, and probably too much,” the report said. A plastic beer cup with a Miller Lite logo was on the seat, the report said.

Kurtz performed poorly on field sobriety tests, and a breath test showed his alcohol level at 0.160, according to the report. A second test done at the Missoula County Detention Facility showed it at 0.153.

Kurtz told the deputy he’d been a reserve deputy sheriff and had a lot of experience with DUI investigations, according to the report.

Although he is no longer a reserve deputy, “he served in the department for many years and was well-respected,” Sheriff’s Detective Jason Johnson said Tuesday.

Kurtz often is called to testify at trials where the level of a person’s intoxication is at issue. For instance, in last year’s trial of Eugene “Joey” Gonzalez, accused with Raymond Big Beaver of beating a transient to death, Kurtz testified that the amount of alcohol in the victim’s system would have proved fatal to 50 percent of the population.

Gonzalez was acquitted in the case, and Big Beaver was found guilty only of misdemeanor assault.

On Tuesday, Kurtz said he couldn’t comment on the incident.

His next court appearance is set for Aug. 15.

Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com or @CopsAndCourts on Twitter.

(15) comments

Bill In Upstate NY
Bill In Upstate NY

What in the good Lord's name does the fact he has been arrested on suspicion of DWI have to do with his professional expertise.

He is no less an expert now than he was before.

He made a mistake, and he'll pay for it if he's guilty.

If the Missoulian cops reporter was arrested for DWI, could he no longer write about it?

Badien
Badien

Well "Honor-ability" should not come into play imo. I hope that he gets what he should. Most drunk drivers are getting harsher sentencing. A person of "good fate" should not be exempt from a penalty of their actions. The message should be sent of "enough is enough". If someone of this statue has little concern, its time to throw the book. I just hope that our justice systems feels the same way. If not, what type of message are we sending to our youth? I hope everyone can learn from this.

Janice
Janice

Why are we so forgiving of a man with "status" in the community, but in other blogs, we want to "hang 'em high"

Would you still feel that way if he mowed down a pedestrian? The only difference between this guy and someone who actually kills someone....LUCK. That's it. Pure LUCK.

COMMON SENSE
COMMON SENSE

"State Crime Lab toxicologist, DUI expert arrested for drunken driving"

I guess it's true what they say, takes one to know one.

Mazola
Mazola

Wow, I had to read this article twice just to make sure! Gwen there's no paragraph mentioning Gerald Kemp or Jordan Johnson.

Bob
Bob

Only in Montana. A drinkin culture like no other.

DonaldM
DonaldM

A couple of points.

This incident has no relevance to his competencies as a toxicologist or otherwise as an authority on this subject.

Janice, I understand your frustration and confusion as indicated by you remarks. However, if he has "the gene", rational thinking isn't at play, and the thought that he has a problem wouldn't have entered his consciousness. He now knows.

However, I am skeptical of a person with his training and knowledge not realizing that he was too impaired to drive. A casual, social drinker would know that they were impaired at that b.a.l. This piques my clinical sensibilities.

I sincerely hope that this incident penetrates his denial mechanism.

Janice
Janice

So every drunk driver out there has "the gene" ? I don't think so. I'm speaking in a very non-clinical, emotional response way. The guy has stood over dead bodies. He has taken samples from ruined lives, crumpled bodies. How does that not "drive" the point home? I'm not so much angry as I am absolutely appauled.

We tell young adults they are mortal. We talk until we are blue in the face about making good choices, (not to drink in the first place), we do public service announcements to not drink and drive. We try to convince a 19 year old young man he is not 10 feet tall and bullet proof. We want them to believe us simply because we "say so" How can we expect them to take us on our word, when an expert who sees the consequences every day doesn't even believe the same thing?

I'm not trying to hash on this guy. He's human, I hope he learns from his mistake. I hope this doesn't destroy his career. I'm just frustrated that as adults, our society as a whole can't get it together, and SET better examples by our actions, not just our words.

nemo
nemo

Lynn will judge himself more harshly than you or I ever could. No excuse or defense offered, just a glimpse of the man I know him to be.

MTONMYMIND
MTONMYMIND

Nemo, you hit the nail on the head. If you know Lynn, he is an honorable man and like all humans, he makes mistakes, too.

MT_Mama
MT_Mama

Agreed. Lynn is a great guy. He would do anything for a friend, or, for that matter, a stranger. I agree that he will judge himself more harshly than anyone else could, and I'm sure he'll stand up and take his punishment without excuses. I just hope the Lab doesn't lose a good toxicologist.

nemo
nemo

This story will be a nice revenue stream for the local media, especially if the mob gets whipped into a crucifixion frenzy. I know Lynn to be a decent human being, so rather than throw in with the mob I'll stand in support of him. I know he would do the same for me. Keep in mind that up to this point no lives have been ruined.

Janice
Janice

Besides getting a drunk driver off the road, it is actually nice to know that this time, the "good ol boys" club didn't work. Kudos to the officer.

Loosing our kids to drinking and driving has become epidemic. We have to set better examples, and an expert in the field should have an even higher standard. How many bodies has this guy stood over just this year alone? How many vials of blood has he tested for drugs and alcohol? If that doesn't stop someone from drinking and driving, what will it take in this community?

Fran Flesch
Fran Flesch

Would this be considered On The Job Training???

Aberdeen
Aberdeen

Cheap shot - hope you've never made, or never make, a mistake!

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