Written by attorney Lawrence E. Wines

Attacking a Blood Draw DUI Case

There are several key steps in attacking a blood draw DUI case. Do not be intimidated and make sure your attorney knows what they are doing. Consulting an expert is always adviseable in these types of cases.

History Before Blood Draw

First you need to know about your client incuding health conditions. You also want to know all the events leading up to the blood draw.

Condition of Subject

If the subject was under considerable stress and / or trauma like from a violent car crash certain metabolic and physiological body functions can interfere with a valid blood alcohol test value. Make sure to get the ER and EMT-Ambulance records by discovery efforts.

Blood Drawer

Determine if the blood drawer is qualified and has the proper training. In discovery the attorney should get copies of the policy on blood draw, a copy of the drawer's resume', copy of ER, EMT Vehicle, ect. surveillance camera views, complete medical records pre-draw. Find out which medical professional approved the draw after doing at least a screen of the subject.

Get a statement from the blood drawer at a deposition if possible or a taped inteview on exactly how the draw was made. The important factors include:

  1. A new vein puncture (not from IV or pickline).

  2. The area of the skin was properly sanatized by the correct technique

  3. Was the sanitizer non-alcohol? Get a sample for possible testing (if possible get an entire blood kit)

  4. Pictures of the puncture site need to be taken ASAP becuase there will be evidence of the disinfection as well as the quality of the venapuncture.

  5. If there is swelling and discloration in the form of a bruise and hematoma under the skin can be evidence of a bad stick and can cause issues in testing.

  6. How long was the turnicate on the arm? How many attempts were made to find a vein? Both are inmportant.

  7. The proper size needle and proper size tube needs to be used and the angle of the stick. Did the needle go completely through the vein not into the vein as desired.

  8. Was there preservative and anticoagulant if the tube (white powder)

  9. The tubes of blood (should be at least two) need to be properly treated. Each tube needs to be slowly inverted upside down and returned to verticle a total of eight times to mix the blood sample with the anticoagulant and presevative. It should not be shaken or handled roughly because it can cause hemolysis of the blood cells (breaking) that will affect the test result.

Storage and Transportation of Sample

  1. Packaging, refrigerative or other form of storage needs to be discovered by the attorney.

  2. There should be a complete chain of custody listing everyone who touched the sample from the blood drawer to the lab and then back to the final evidence custodian.

  3. Obtain how the sample was transported: mail, courier or police drop off.

  4. How was the sample stored, for how long, by who and under what conditions?

  5. Check all the chain of custody paperwork.

Laboratory Testing of Sample

  1. The type of test is important. Was it an immuno-assay or gas chromatograhy test (GC), etc. ?

  2. Was the lab approved, credentialed, certified? What are their methods and standard operating procedures, list of standards, controls and blanks tested in the run from the lab.

  3. How did the sample arrive (should be notes) and was the evidence seal in place on the tube-stopper?

  4. Does the lab take pictures of the arriving samples.

  5. Was there a visual inspection of the tubes for any signs of hemolisis, contamination, cell debris on bottom of the tube.

  6. What was the internal storage of refrigeration of the sample?

  7. Waht were the qualifications of the technician doing the testing? Get a resume" and check sources.

  8. Get the bench notes

  9. Get the raw and manipulated data from the test (want print records and an eletronic version including software (if necessary under a protective order so an expert can really examine the data.

  10. Get the actual chromograms of the subjects test and the entire run if done by GC.

Expert Witness

If possible have the help of a qualified expert in the field. They can be paid to review the discovery and reder an opinion.

Additional resources provided by the author

Understanding DUI Scientific Evidence an addition 2009 to 2012 available on Amazon or Thompson-West Publisher's web site. Authors on this subject include: Lawrence Wines, Justin McShane, Alfred Staubus.

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