What Are The Common Misconceptions About Blood Draws?
The biggest misconception people have when it comes to blood draw cases comes with the question, “How do we get around them testing my blood?” They’ve heard that blood tests are more accurate than breath tests and ask, “Why should I bother? How are you going to win this?” In other words, the biggest misconception about blood testing is that they’re unbeatable.
Who Actually Draws The Blood?
The answer to that question is crucial to defending a blood draw case. For example, whoever draws blood in Utah for forensic purposes must be a medical professional or someone who has been issued a permit by the state of Utah to draw blood. That can be a paramedic or someone similar, but they must be authorized by the state. It’s just like a license, in that they have to renew it every year and they have to go through the steps required to maintain that certification and that qualification.
There aren’t many people outside of hospitals available to do this. In the jails around Utah, you always see the same few names on nearly every DUI report listed as the person who has drawn the blood. In jurisdictions further south, there are forensic service companies who do this, so police officers take the accused driver to that location and have them draw the blood.
However, if the driver refuses and requires a forced blood draw, it will usually happen at the jail or police department. The person drawing the blood will usually be a paramedic of some sort, such as a combination deputy/paramedic. In some cases, especially if there is an injury accident, the blood may be drawn at a hospital, either by a nurse or a paramedic.
What Is The Prosecution Looking For in the Blood Case?
Blood cases are a bit more difficult for the prosecution because they have to take into account a number of things, such as how the blood was obtained and whether there was a warrant or consent. They also have to consider who did the blood draw, whether they were certified and qualified, and did the blood draw properly. Also important is whether or not they took steps after the blood draw to preserve the sample and properly document it.
That last part is very important. I am working on a case right now in which police a blood draw on a client did. Normally, they send the two vials of blood samples to the lab after they initial them and put the person’s name on them. In this case, the officer didn’t do any of that; he just sent two vials of blood to the lab without identifying them or marking them in any way. The lab rejected the samples, saying they couldn’t analyze them because they had no way of knowing who the blood belonged to or who took the sample. That made my client very happy, of course, because it meant the case will likely be dismissed.
Also important are the steps police themselves take after the blood draw. For example, it matters whether or not the sample was secured into evidence in a proper evidence storage fridge or freezer, and not inside the trunk of the officer’s car. It also matters who delivered it to the lab, whether or not the lab analyst was properly trained, whether proper procedures were used to analyze the blood, whether the methods used were accurate and whether the machines used had been properly maintained. And a prosecutor must build that chain of custody.
As a DUI defense attorney, I will look at each one of those areas and if there’s a problem, I will use it in my client’s favor. Many prosecutors don’t care for blood draw cases because they are much more involved, and there are so many more steps to get the blood test result in front of a judge or jury.
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