Challenging Blood Test Results In Florida DUI Cases

Getting charged with a DUI in Florida is a serious matter, but an arrest does not always equal a conviction. Before you’re arrested, law enforcement will need probable cause, such as a failed field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. In some cases, law enforcement can also get a warrant to draw blood for a more accurate test or when other tests are refused.

Blood tests are one of the most reliable means of proving alcohol intoxication; however, this doesn’t mean that they are always accurate or that they can’t be contested.

challenging DUI blood tests

Florida mandates that an accredited or state-certified laboratory must perform blood tests used as evidence in criminal cases to ensure the accuracy and admissibility of test results. These laboratories should use proper testing procedures to obtain reliable and accurate results.

When collecting and storing the sample, following proper sample handling procedures is of utmost importance. Collecting a blood sample requires a properly trained phlebotomist and using the correct equipment to ensure the process remains sterile. Proper chain-of-custody (CoC) protocol must also be followed to prevent samples from being tampered with or contaminated, which could alter test results.

Finally, all blood testing laboratories must comply with the legal requirements of the Health and Safety Code (HSC) of the State of Florida. These regulations include laboratory procedures, laboratory licenses, certifications, and proficiency testing.

Factors That Can Affect Blood Test Results

When it comes to DUI blood test results, not all results are definitive. Different circumstances can affect the outcome and provide valid arguments when challenged.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions can have a significant impact on the accuracy of blood test results in DUI cases. Various health problems can cause alcohol or substance levels in the blood to read inaccurately, including:

  • Diabetic complications, such as ketoacidosis, can lead to falsely elevated alcohol levels due to the presence of acetone.
  • Hypoglycemia, which is common in diabetics, can have similar symptoms to alcohol impairment and can affect test results.
  • Liver disease can alter the metabolism of alcohol, which can lead to elevated levels in a blood test.
  • Blood disorders that affect blood clotting can compromise the sample's integrity and falsify the results.
  • Certain heart conditions can affect the normal blood flow and absorption rate of alcohol, affecting concentration levels.
  • Conditions such as GERD or acid reflux can contaminate samples from the mouth with stomach contents that mimic alcohol levels.
  • Metabolic disorders often affect how the body processes alcohol and can, therefore, affect breath alcohol readings, which are indirectly related to blood tests.

Medications And Substances

Certain medications and substances can also influence blood test results. Some of these medications include:

  • Prescription drugs can affect blood alcohol levels or mimic symptoms of intoxication. Even if a drug is legally prescribed, its effects can still lead to a DUI charge.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines or sleeping pills often have a sedative effect. These can impair your ability to drive and possibly alter the results of blood tests.
  • Illegal substances such as marijuana or cocaine not only contribute to impaired driving ability but can also complicate the evaluation of blood test results.
  • Herbal preparations can affect the accuracy of some test methods. Certain natural products contain compounds that can falsify readings and falsely indicate drug use.
  • Diet pills sometimes contain stimulants that affect behavior and motor skills, which could be misinterpreted as a sign of alcohol impairment in a drunk driving investigation.
  • Energy drinks often contain caffeine mixed with other substances that can mask the effects of alcohol on a person’s system, leading to questionable blood test results.
  • Vitamins and minerals in high doses can interact with alcohol metabolism or test chemicals, leading to unreliable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurements.

Sample Contamination

A contaminated sample could falsely influence the outcome of your drunk driving case. Some key points drivers should be aware of concerning sample contamination include:

  • Strict protocols must be followed from the point of blood collection to prevent contamination from skewing the results.
  • Using non-sterile equipment or improper handling by personnel can introduce foreign substances into the blood sample.
  • Sample storage conditions are critical; incorrect temperatures or exposure to light can affect the sample's integrity.
  • Cross-contamination can occur if the blood is not adequately separated from other samples or contaminants in the laboratory environment.
  • Chemical preservatives and anticoagulants are added to blood samples; their absence or an incorrect ratio can lead to degradation and unreliable results.
  • Chain of Custody documentation needs to be flawless; inconsistencies could indicate tampering or errors during transportation or storage.
  • If blood is taken too long after the traffic stop, the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream may have decreased or increased during the waiting period, leading to unreliable results.

Common Ways To Challenge DUI Blood Test Results

Blood tests are considered to be the most reliable means of determining alcohol levels in DUI cases. However, errors can occur during testing, leading to incorrect results. Challenging these results, especially since they're considered valid evidence in DUI cases, is important.

Requesting A Second Sample

Demanding a retest of the blood sample provides an additional point of reference to potentially challenge the initial test results. It's important to ensure that the second sample is collected and analyzed according to strict legal and medical protocols to ensure its integrity.

When retesting, it’s advisable to have the second test performed by an independent laboratory with certified professionals to reduce the risk of falsified results. Comparing the results of both tests is important, and significant differences between the two tests could indicate problems with the testing procedure or the integrity of the sample.

Documenting every step during this process is important, as thorough documentation is necessary to build a strong case. Requesting a second sample is a valuable tool to strengthen the defense in a drunk driving case. It’s important to do so with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on Florida’s legal requirements and procedures.

Proving Errors In Testing Procedures

Procedural errors in the blood test for drink-driving can call the reliability of the results into question. Checking the individual steps for errors can provide grounds for disputing the test results.

  • Verify that the blood draw complied with the law, including establishing probable cause and obtaining the required consent or search warrant.
  • Review documentation to confirm that officers used a state-approved kit for the blood draw.
  • Verify that blood collection personnel have the current and appropriate certification to perform the blood draw and handle the specimen.
  • Verify that sterile needles and new, unopened vials were used to minimize the risk of contamination.
  • Determine if the sample was properly labeled to avoid confusion with other samples.
  • Ensure blood samples have been stored at the correct temperature immediately after collection to avoid sample degradation or fermentation.
  • Request maintenance logs from the refrigerators to ensure they worked properly throughout the storage period.
  • Review chain of custody records carefully; gaps could indicate mishandling or tampering.
  • Check the time records from sampling to testing; delays can lead to inaccurate results.

Identify Discrepancies In Test Results

To carefully challenge the reported blood test results, we suggest reviewing the report with an experienced DUI attorney, identifying discrepancies, and challenging them. Some steps you can take to identify discrepancies in the blood test results include:

  • Review the blood test report carefully and look for inconsistencies in the alcohol levels that do not match your consumption patterns or behavior at the time of arrest.
  • Compare the reported blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to the estimated time and amount of alcohol consumed to identify inconsistencies accurately.
  • Check the timestamps on the paperwork to ensure the sample was collected and processed in a timely manner to avoid fermentation that could result in a falsely high BAC.
  • Look for typographical errors that may have occurred when transferring your data from one record to another, as these errors could affect the accuracy of the results.
  • Ensure proper protocol was followed during sample collection and testing; improper procedures can contaminate the sample and skew test results.
  • Review laboratory and technician records to ensure that all testing standards and protocols were strictly followed.
  • Investigate possible deviations from standard operating procedures or protocols that could call into question the integrity and analysis of the sample.
  • Ask your doctor for a professional assessment to determine if your medical history or medications may have affected the BAC reported in the blood test results.

Questioning Improper Transportation Of The Sample

The sample's integrity could be compromised if transportation procedures weren't followed correctly. Here's how you should proceed:

  • Make sure your blood sample was stored and transported at the proper temperature. Extreme temperatures can damage the sample, potentially leading to inaccurate readings.
  • Request detailed logs showing who handled your blood sample from collection to analysis. Any break in the chain could mean contamination or mix-ups.
  • Confirm that your blood sample was stored safely to prevent tampering or interference that could falsify the test result.
  • Look into whether excessive time has passed between the blood sample being taken and the test. Delays can affect the alcohol content and lead to false positive results.
  • Make sure that the containers used to transport your blood are sterile and properly sealed to avoid contamination.

Lack Of Proper Certification For Testing Equipment Or Personnel

Accurate DUI blood test results hinge on properly certified equipment and trained personnel. Any lapse in certification can be an important point to question the validity of the blood test evidence in your case. Here’s what you need to understand this:

  • Always check that the lab equipment was certified at the time of testing. Outdated certifications can lead to inaccurate readings.
  • The person performing the test must have current, valid certification. Inadequate training can lead to incorrect handling of your sample.
  • Laboratories should adhere to strict guidelines when performing blood tests. Failure to do so can contaminate samples and invalidate results.
  • Ask for maintenance logs of testing equipment. Devices that are not regularly maintained are prone to errors.
  • Make sure that machines were calibrated as scheduled before performing your test. Devices that aren't calibrated will falsify the blood alcohol content (BAC).
  • The Florida Supreme Court has emphasized that there's no tolerance for inaccuracies due to non-compliance with uniform regulations.

Steps To Challenge Blood Test Results

Challenging Florida DUI blood test results requires a strategic approach; understanding the legal nuances and procedural errors is important. To build a persuasive defense, every aspect of the collection, handling, and analysis must be closely examined to determine potential grounds for challenging the admissibility or accuracy of the blood samples.

Review All Records And Documentation

Reviewing all records and documentation will ensure that every detail of the testing procedure is reviewed for accuracy and legality. Here’s what to look for when reviewing your documents:

  • Obtain a complete copy of the blood test records, including monitoring documents, to ensure that no tampering or mishandling has taken place.
  • Ensure the blood sample has been properly labeled and stored as directed; any deviation could compromise the evidence.
  • Check all test devices' expiration dates and calibration records to confirm their reliability during analysis.
  • Ensure that only certified personnel perform the blood collection and analysis, as Florida law requires certification.
  • Review the arresting officer's probable cause report to ensure it matches your case's facts and circumstances.
  • Review hospital records if a search warrant was used to seize medical blood and compare them to police records.
  • Review any available video recordings of the arrest or detention to determine if the procedures were correctly followed.
  • Investigate how long it took for the police to receive the blood test results; prolonged delays can affect the integrity of the results.
  • Analyze whether your medical condition or the medications you were taking could have affected your blood test results and offer alternative explanations.
  • Consult with an attorney who’s familiar with Florida DUI laws and who can identify inconsistencies or irregularities in the documentation that could work in your favor.

Presenting Expert Testimony

An experienced forensic toxicologist can provide insights supporting the validity of your test results. If you involve expert testimony, you should ensure that several steps are taken. These include:

  • The credibility of your case relies heavily on the qualifications of the expert witness you present. Look for professionals with extensive forensic toxicology experience and a strong background in DUI cases.
  • Your chosen expert will scrutinize the methods used to collect, store, and analyze your blood sample, searching for potential flaws or contamination that could skew results.
  • Experts can highlight how improper handling or faulty equipment might have compromised the accuracy of your blood testing, casting doubt on the evidence against you.
  • An informed expert can interpret complex medical data, making it understandable to a judge or jury who may not have a scientific background.
  • If you have health issues that could affect blood alcohol levels, an expert witness will explain these conditions' potential impact on your test results.
  • The expert evaluates whether all legal protocols and state-approved guidelines were followed during testing.
  • The witness checks if the lab processing your sample had proper accreditation and if those handling your test were appropriately certified.
  • In some instances, courts allow experts to retest blood samples. Their independent findings may offer evidence supporting your defense.

Filing A Motion To Suppress Blood Test Results

Filing a motion to suppress blood test results in a Florida DUI case challenges the admissibility of the results and potentially weakens the prosecution's case.

  • Understand the basis for suppression, which could stem from improper blood collection procedures or violations of your constitutional rights.
  • Gather evidence that indicates improper handling of your blood sample, such as inconsistencies in documentation or witness statements that indicate contamination.
  • Hire an expert witness specializing in forensic toxicology to critique the blood analysis and point out any errors in the protocol.
  • Challenge the arresting officer's actions on cross-examination to uncover any procedural errors that could justify suppression of the test results.
  • Analyze whether Florida's strict "implied consent" laws were properly followed before and during the administration of the blood test.
  • Review the equipment and personnel certifications involved in the testing to ensure they meet the required legal standards.

Time Limitations For Challenging Blood Test Results

Under Florida law, you have a strict 10-day policy for contesting blood test results in DUI cases. This means that you only have ten days from the date of your arrest to file an appeal of the test results.

Missing your 10-day window could result in losing the ability to question the accuracy and admissibility of the evidence. Additionally, severe penalties can be imposed, including fines and suspension of driver's licenses.

The 10-day period may seem like a short amount of time, but it’s important that you take action as soon as possible. Taking decisive action will preserve your rights and demonstrate how seriously you take your defense against DUI charges, potentially impacting how authorities handle your case in the future.

Speak To An Attorney About Your DUI Charges Today

Just because you failed a DUI blood test doesn’t mean your case has to be an “open and shut” one. An experienced DUI lawyer can do a deep investigation to uncover any mishandling or procedural errors made during collection, storage, or analysis — including a mix-up of the blood sample or faulty sterile procedures that could compromise the results.

Call the Weinstein Legal Team at 888.626.1108 or click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced DUI defense attorneys today.


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