When you are arrested in Arizona for a suspected DUI, the officer might order a DUI blood test. Before a blood test can be ordered, the officer must first either obtain your voluntary consent or secure a search warrant. Upon drawing your blood, the officer is required to advise you of your right to conduct independent testing of your blood. However, you might not know how to find an independent lab to draw your blood after hours to test it for your alcohol concentration. Because it might take you some time to locate a blood testing facility and get transportation, several hours may have passed. Since the alcohol in your blood dissipates over time, this can be a real problem.
If you ask for independent blood alcohol testing, the officer cannot do things to unreasonably interfere with your right to obtain this sample. When you are arrested for a DUI, you should contact a Phoenix DUI attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to ask for an attorney, and you should do so as soon as you are arrested. You also have the right to ask for an independent blood sample.
Even if you are transported to jail, you can ask the officer to take you to a local hospital to have an independent blood test performed. While you might not understand why this is important, an independent blood sample might help you to identify problems with how the blood test was performed in your DUI case.
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Understanding Blood Testing for DUI Alcohol or Drugs
When your blood is drawn to show the concentration of alcohol in your blood, you might think that the results are valid and accurate, preventing you from defending against a DUI charge. However, blood testing is not infallible. It is possible to challenge the results of a blood test on procedural, handling, and scientific grounds.
When you are stopped by an officer, he or she can ask for a blood test if you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusing a breathalyzer test will result in a suspension of your driving privileges. An officer can either ask for your voluntary consent to a blood test or secure a search warrant to get a sample.
Some DUI enforcement officers in Arizona are certified phlebotomists and can draw blood. Other officers might ask for a mobile unit to respond that has blood testing equipment available. In other cases, suspects might be transported to a hospital or police station to complete a blood draw.
To prove the accuracy of a BAC obtained from a blood sample, Arizona law mandates that your blood must be taken within two hours of when you last drove. If you refuse to submit to a blood test, the officer will have to secure a search warrant.
If your blood is taken after two or more hours have passed, a toxicologist or chemist might be asked to perform a retrograde extrapolation to determine what your blood alcohol concentration was within two hours of when you drove. These results can then be used against you.
Potential Problems with a DUI Blood Test to Determine BAC
There are several ways that a blood test might not provide valid and accurate results. When your blood is taken, it is drawn into a tube that is vacuum-sealed. These tubes might contain different additives to perform different analyses. The chemical additives are meant to prevent clotting and contamination. If a container is not handled properly, or if a tube is used beyond the expiration date of its seal, it may be unreliable in stopping contamination from bacteria and other microorganisms.
When a blood sample is taken at a hospital, there is less of a chance that the blood will be drawn incorrectly or that a tube will be handled improperly. However, there may be problems that happen in the forensic lab to determine your BAC level.
When your blood is collected by a technician, the technician can make mistakes that could impact your results. For instance, if a technician uses an alcohol wipe to clean the site on your body where your blood will be drawn, this can result in a higher BAC level in the test.
Other problems can occur during the chain of custody. To admit your blood test into evidence, the chain of custody must be established by the prosecution. The chain of custody tracks where your sample was from the time of collection to the time of the results being recorded. Everyone who had custody of your blood sample along the way must be shown. Any mistakes in establishing the chain of custody can result in your blood sample being deemed inadmissible.
Errors in the laboratory are reasons why getting an independent blood test is important. Many labs get the majority of their business from the police. This might make them more inclined to provide results that favor the prosecution. In some cases, blood samples may be intermingled or switched either accidentally or intentionally. If you have an independent blood test, you can use the results to challenge those provided by the forensic lab.
There might also be storage or calibration issues. If a sample is not stored properly, the blood can ferment and cause the BAC to increase. Lab equipment must also be properly maintained and calibrated or else it might not produce reliable results.
Getting DUI Blood Test Results Used as Evidence
To get blood test results into evidence, the prosecutor will need to establish the chain of custody. This is often documented on forms that each person signs as the sample passes through their custody on the way to the lab. These forms are also signed within the lab as your sample is taken for testing.
The prosecutor will also need to secure evidence about the calibration and maintenance of the lab’s equipment. This might include maintenance and repair logs and certification records. Your defense lawyer will request all of these types of documents in discovery to identify any issues that might have occurred. To get your independent blood sample into evidence, you will also have to establish the chain of custody and present evidence that the draw was completed accurately.
When Should You Request an Independent DUI Blood Test?
You should ask for an independent blood test immediately after your sample has been obtained by the police. You must be given the opportunity to test your blood independently if you are still in custody.
An independent blood test can be especially helpful when your BAC level is unreasonably high for the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
For example, if you only drank one beer and return a BAC of 0.10 or higher, something might be wrong. An independent blood test can help your lawyer challenge the results and potentially have them excluded from evidence. Your attorney will also carefully examine your stop and how the officers conducted their investigations. If any problems are identified, your lawyer may file motions to challenge the admission of different types of evidence.
Get Help from an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a DUI after having your blood drawn and tested, it does not mean that you will be found guilty. When you retain an experienced DUI defense lawyer at the Shah Law Firm, we will carefully examine all of the evidence to identify potential defenses to your charges.
Call us today to schedule an appointment at 602-560-7408.