Laboratory Errors

Tempe Attorneys for Defenses Based on Laboratory Error

It is normal to feel fear if you are pulled over for suspected DUI, particularly if you had a beer or glass of wine, and you are uncertain about whether or not your blood alcohol concentration was too high to be behind the wheel. Once you provide a breath, blood, or urine sample that comes back with negative results, you may assume that your conviction is a done deal. However, laboratories sometimes do make mistakes. Your lawyer will examine the facts to determine whether an error made by the lab could be used to challenge chemical test results or other evidence against you. If you believe that there were laboratory errors that contributed to your arrest and charges, you should call our strategic Tempe DUI defense attorney. James Novak is a former prosecutor who uses insights gained in his earlier career and education to develop strong defenses on behalf of clients, and counter charges of drunk driving and other crimes.

Laboratory Errors

If your blood alcohol concentration is .08% or above, you may be charged with a DUI. Your driving privileges will be suspended. However, there are various errors that can allow our Tempe attorneys to challenge the test results.

Sometimes labs store blood test or other chemical test results improperly. Once a blood sample is collected, it should be stored in a vacuum-sealed test tube that includes chemicals to stop bacterial contamination and clotting. When these test tubes are improperly handled, blood test results may be improper. When seals on test containers, for instance, are too old, they expire; improper tubes may have been used.

Errors can also occur in the testing itself. When laboratory technicians perform testing in bulk, they may not check for the expiration date. Or if the wrong chemicals, or the wrong quantity of them were inside the containers, bacterial contamination that skews results could occur.

Sometimes the manner in which the sample is collected is problematic. Laboratory technicians need to be properly trained to collect a sample for DUI analysis. If alcohol swabs are used to clean the injection site, for instance, your blood test results could have come out higher than they would have been otherwise. Additionally, the testing kit itself needs to be examined; the results couldn’t be used in a DUI case if the kit specified it was not for forensic purposes. Sometimes our lawyers must retain experts to examine whether there are discrepancies between testing and your true blood alcohol content. Blood may have been collected from an improper spot on the body, such as from arterial blood rather than blood from the veins, and this, too, could affect the test results.

Another potential lab error may occur in connection with lactic acid. When a DUI involves serious injuries, the muscles and organs may have produced lactic acid. In that case, the blood alcohol concentration will be higher than it would have been at the time during which you were driving the car.

Hospital Errors

When blood is drawn in connection with medical care after an accident in which DUI is suspected, it may be tested by the hospital lab, rather than a forensic lab. This is an important fact because the purpose of a hospital lab test is determining medical care, not seeking conviction for a crime. When determining your BAC, a crime lab tests the whole blood sample. The hospital, however, only tests blood plasma; this is what remains once liquid has been separated from the blood sample. There is more alcohol retained in the plasma, and so the BAC that’s determined in that case, would be higher than it the whole sample were tested.

Lab Maintenance

Forensic labs are often poorly staffed. They may not have appropriate oversight and the equipment may be old, in disrepair or improperly maintained. Within 60 days of being tested, you are entitled to ask for a sample of the tested blood; our lawyers may be able to have it independently tested. Independent testing could show lower blood alcohol content, which could result in dismissal or acquittal.

Consult a Seasoned DUI Defense Attorney

It is crucial to talk to an experienced Tempe DUI defense attorney to determine the strongest defense in your case. James E. Novak may be able to represent you. He represents those accused in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.