Driving Under the Influence

BLOOD TESTING

Even the blood testing methodology that the government uses is fraught with problems. The government does not use the same methodology that you would get from a hospital or your doctor. They don‘t even use the same vials, which have to be kept separate to ensure that they are not used for medical purposes. In the end, these samples are tested using a type of breath device, which extracts only molecules of the sample, and then blows it through the testing device! This is not a methodology with which you would want your sample tested or that of your child.

In addition to the problems with the test methodology, blood tests can be wrong due to spoilage of the sample. As with other living body products (we are most familiar with milk), blood oxidizes or spoils over time unless mixed with a preservative agent. As the blood spoils it produces alcohol, causing the alcohol to rise right in the tube!

In order to prevent spoilage, a preservative agent must be mixed with the blood sample. Today the state typically does this by using vials with preservative already added. There are cases, however, in which a sufficient amount of preservative is not added. In addition, after the blood is drawn, the sample must be sufficiently shaken in order to mix the preservative with the blood. Many police officers are unaware of this, and fail to do it.

In cases involving blood samples, we typically have the sample re-tested. We have the crime lab involved remove a part of the sample and send it to an independent laboratory for re-testing of the sample. The sample is tested for alcohol level and preservative content. We routinely have cases in which the reported alcohol level of the re-test is different than that of the original, which can be important in close cases. We also see cases in which the re-test is significantly higher than the original, proving spoilage, which invalidates the original test, as it also likely occurred after the effect of spoilage.

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