Following a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania, officers may choose to ask the defendant to submit to either a breathalyzer test or a blood test. If a blood test is chosen, the motorist will be transported to a local hospital after being placed in handcuffs and taken into custody. The motorist will either need to consent to the blood test, or the officer will need to secure a warrant. Then, the motorist will be taken to an area where his or her blood will be drawn by a phlebotomist. The phlebotomist will draw the blood and give it to the officer, and it will be placed in a bag for transporting that is sealed and labeled. Many people call the hospitals where their blood was drawn to ask for the results, but the hospital will not know them. The officers take the blood back to the police station where it should be refrigerated and then sent to a crime lab for analysis. If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs, the blood sample might be sent to a lab to determine what drugs might be present in the blood. If you have been arrested for a DUI and have questions about your blood test, talk to the legal team at DiCindio Law.
In some jurisdictions, roving DUI patrols are becoming more frequent. For these, the police might have a phlebotomist at the police station. All of the DUI arrests during a specific night might have their blood drawn by the phlebotomist at the police station. The blood will then be packaged and left so that the officer can send it to the crime lab to be analyzed.
When does an officer use a blood test instead of a breath test?
The arresting officer is the person who chooses the type of chemical test that will be given after a DUI arrest. Some officers only administer breath tests. Other police departments do not own a breathalyzer machine and only ask for blood tests. The type of test that you might be asked to submit to after your DUI arrest will depend on the policy of the police department. In cases in which drug impairment is suspected, the officer will opt for a blood test since drugs are not reliably detectable with breath tests.
Can you refuse a blood test?
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 2016 case that police officers must get a warrant to take blood for a blood test. The police do not have to get a warrant to obtain a breath sample, however. For blood tests, many police officers ask motorists to give them their blood and do not inform them that they have the right to demand a warrant. When that happens, an attorney can file a motion in court about your blood test and whether it was obtained unconstitutionally. If you refuse a blood test for which the officer did not have a warrant, your lawyer might argue that you should not be penalized because of the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, the state’s laws mandate that all drivers must submit to chemical testing in DUI cases, meaning that you can face driver’s license consequences for your refusal with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Are blood tests in DUI cases accurate?
For a test to provide valid results, it must be administered properly. Blood can ferment if it is not correctly refrigerated and stored and provide inaccurate results. Blood tests that are analyzed at a crime lab are more reliable than blood tests that are analyzed at a hospital. When people have their blood tested in a hospital after an accident, the doctors want to find out whether the person was injured and the types of drugs that are present so that they know what they can safely administer. Hospital labs do not have the same types of procedures in place that crime labs do.
Crime labs normally use gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. The devices that are used for GC/MS tests are error-prone and are subject to introduced errors from improper calibration and maintenance. An attorney can request a packet of information from the lab to review to determine whether the lab produced valid results. In many cases, there are errors that have occurred. Your attorney can use any errors that he or she finds to seek to have the blood test results suppressed in court. If they are suppressed, the prosecutor will not be able to use the results as evidence against you.
What are some defenses to use against blood tests?
Your attorney will review the evidence to determine the appropriate defenses to raise. The GC/MS machine produces results and prints out a graph. The graph should include a line indicating alcohol. The graph could have other lines if there are other substances detected. Contamination is a large problem in blood alcohol testing. The machine has to be properly calibrated and maintained so that previous samples that have been tested do not contaminate subsequent samples. Your lawyer might also investigate whether the analyst used the proper solutions and whether they were expired. Your lawyer will go through a checklist to determine whether your blood was properly analyzed.
Get help from DiCindio Law
Many people think that blood test results are 100% accurate. However, that is simply not the case. Errors can be introduced during the blood draw, storage, transportation, and testing process. To learn more about your blood test results and your options, contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.