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Needle Size Matters: Clotted Blood Leads to Higher Blood-Alcohol Levels

Written by Moses & Rooth Attorneys at Law on October 17, 2017

Facing a DUI conviction can be devastating, especially when the charge is only one of several crimes that you have been accused of committing in connection with the DUI charge. When you are charged with a crime related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), how can you be certain that the evidence obtained by law enforcement officers accurately reflects your blood alcohol content (BAC)? After all, a person cannot be convicted of a DUI without a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. If it is possible that the blood sample through which your BAC was measured had errors, you may be able to have the charges against you dropped.

Can law enforcement officers in Florida require an individual to submit to a blood test? And why would a blood sample inaccurately report an individual’s BAC?

Statutory Law in Florida and DUI Blood Tests

Under Florida law (Florida Statutes Section 316.1933), if an officer has probable cause to suspect that a car driven by someone under the influence has caused the death or serious injury of another individual, the officer can require the person driving to submit to a test of their blood for the purpose of determining its alcoholic content.

To be sure, Florida law enforcement officers do have the power to require a driver submit to a blood test in certain circumstances, as long as the blood test is “performed in a reasonable manner.” What are the circumstances under which a blood test could give an inaccurate reading of a person’s BAC?

Florida Defendant Argues Blood Samples in DUI Cases Are Inadequately Collected

According to a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, a defendant in a Florida DUI manslaughter case is arguing that Florida’s “state rules fail to ensure blood samples are adequately collected and screened before the evidence is used in criminal cases.” In other words, the procedures for collective blood samples are not reliable, the defendant argues. What makes the procedure potentially unreliable?

In short, the procedures do not specify the type of size of the needle to be used in collecting blood, and the rules do not guarantee that “blood analysts in testing labs will toss clotted or irregular samples before cases go to trial.” The defendant contends that the diameter of the needle was too small, which “likely produced clotting and a ‘compromised’ blood sample.” When blood is clotted, it shows high blood-alcohol levels than if the blood is not clotted. With the way samples are introduced into evidence, defendants and their defense attorneys cannot know whether the blood was clotted.

The article emphasizes that one way to correct the needle problem is to have standard blood test kits with larger needle diameters. In the meantime, however, if the defendant wins the case, it may be possible for others convicted of DUIs based on blood tests to appeal their convictions.

Contact a DUI Defense Lawyer in Florida

If you have questions about a DUI defense or appeal, an aggressive criminal defense lawyer in Florida can assist you. Contact Moses & Rooth today to discuss your case.

Posted Under: DUI

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