The Defense of DUIs and Drug-Related Offenses Has Evolved into a Science-Based Defense
Interviewer: Do many of your clients know about your science background and how it could benefit them in their case?
Matthew Nebeker: I try to make that known to them. I tell them, “When your blood goes to the lab, this is what’s going to happen to it.” I don’t think they really know how much training that I have gone through to really fight for them, to help understand their case, and be able to question the lab technician to see if they did their job right.
Can Keeping Current on the New Technology and Changes to the DUI Laws Help an Attorney Provide a Better Defense for Clients?
Interviewer: Do you think, with all the changes in DUI laws and new technology and materials, do you think this training has benefited you in recent days?
If the Utah Police Can’t Confirm Impairment though the Field Sobriety Tests, They Will Ask the Driver for a Blood Sample
Matthew Nebeker: Oh, absolutely. I have a case that we just resolved. It was my client’s second DUI, and so it’s still a misdemeanor. He was leaving one of the local bars. He didn’t make a perfect exit from the parking lot out onto the street. The police followed him and pulled him out of his car and he underwent the field sobriety test. The officers were not quite sure whether he was under the influence of alcohol or something else, so they ended up drawing his blood.
That’s what they do. If they can’t confirm what’s going on with the breath tests, for instance if the breath test comes back zero or negative but they think the person is still impaired, that’s when they’ll go ahead and request blood drawn. My client submitted to the blood draw. He came back and he ended up having a couple of different substances in the test results, along with a little bit of alcohol.
If the Defense Attorney Has a Background in Analyzing the Data, He May Be Able to Uncover a Defense When the Results Indicate Impairment
What I did is I requested the data from the lab. I requested the printout of the computer. This way, I could see exactly what the computer was saying about what was in his system. Through my training, I was able to observe that some of the schematical, which is the graphical information, was overlapping.
If there was an overlap there, it was giving him higher test results because instead of counting two individual analytes, as they call it, two individual substances, the machine overlapped them, counted them both under one number. It caused him to have a higher limit, which was a violation of the law.
Had I not requested that information directly from the lab, had I not known what to look for on those chromatograms, as they call it, I would not have had this defense to use on his behalf. That’s just one instant where this extra training and this extra knowledge permits me to go the extra mile, to dig a little bit deeper, and to get that information from the lab. This truly paid off for my client because I showed the results to the prosecutor. I had to explain to the prosecutor what he was even looking at. Then I showed him how these results were overlapping and showed him some other information. He said he was going to make some calls and verify it. Sure enough, he came back and he dismissed the case.