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Blood Testing






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May 27, 2011

Blood Testing

Folks, welcome to another edition of my DUI Defense blog.

Today’s topic of discussion concerns blood testing and how they could impact the success or failure of the defense in your case. Blood testing is by far the most accurate method of determining a person’s blood alcohol content. However, as accurate as it is, many problems can arise with the sampling, storage and testing of a blood sample.

Many issues arise during the collection of the client’s blood. For instance, was the blood collected by an RN or by a poorly trained police officer? Did law enforcement employ gray-topped tubes or were standard hospital collection tubes used (purple tops)? Was the blood tested on a gas chromatograph or was it tested by immunoassay? That can make a HUGE difference as immunoassay is normally employed by the hospital and is the least accurate blood testing method. Were the tubes inverted by the person who collected the blood or were they allowed to sit, which could cause coagulation of the sample as well as preservative issues?

Was the specimen properly stored prior to shipping it off to the Health Environmental Testing Laboratory or did it sit in the trunk of the police cruiser during a July heatwave? Was the sample properly documented? Is there a chain of custody? If the sample was stored at the police station, where was it stored? Was the sample stored in a proper temperature-controlled storage area or was it stored next to someone’s ham sandwich at the police station refrigerator? Who has access to the storage area?

Did the lab do a whole blood or serum analysis? Was the gas chromatograph working properly? Was the gas chromatograph properly calibrated? Did the police officer get the consent of the person whose blood was drawn or was a warrant obtained? Were there problems with the test for other people’s samples that were done on the same run as your sample?

There are so many things to look at when it comes to blood testing and so many things to go wrong that it’s really in your best interest to speak with a qualified OUI defense attorney; someone who understands all of the protocols and testing methods and knows how to create weaknesses in the State’s case. Remember, it is the State’s burden of proof to prove that you are guilty beyond any reasonable doubt and in the case of a blood test, they’ve got to show that police and scientific protocols adhered to every step of the way. That includes everything collection of the blood sample, testing procedures, proper chain of custody, storage of the sample and the testing method employed.

If you have got questions about your OUI case, give my office a call. I’ll be happy to sit down with you and discuss all the things that we can potentially attack when it comes to the state’s blood test results. Remember, while blood test cases are incredibly complex, many times they are more defendable than a breath test case.



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