If you get arrested for any drug DUI in California, you are likely to be given a blood test after your arrest. Blood tests are also increasingly used for DUIs involving alcohol rather than the conventional breath test because they are more accurate. However, the test results are not definitive. There are many ways for a blood sample test to go wrong – and give a false result.
Any good DUI lawyer will investigate how your blood sample was taken, where it was processed, and whether the results can get called into question. Attacking the blood test results is one of the strongest ways to defend your case. It could even get the DUI charges dropped.
Is It True That Blood Tests Are More Accurate Than Other DUI Chemical Tests?
If everything gets done correctly, a blood test gives an accurate reading of the amount of alcohol in your blood. This is much more useful than a breath test, which tests the blood indirectly by using your breath as a proxy. Breath tests can easily get thrown off by factors like alcohol that’s still in your mouth.
However, blood tests have many issues of their own. When your blood sample gets drawn, it isn’t analyzed immediately. It has to get sent to a lab that may analyze it days or weeks later. A lot can happen between the moment you give the blood sample and the time it gets tested. And, just like with a breath test, officers can make mistakes in how they administer the test.
Why Is Attacking the Blood Test Results Such a Big Deal?
A blood sample is often the single most significant piece of evidence against you in a DUI case. California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 23152(b) makes it illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher while driving. Therefore, a blood test makes it easy to prove that your BAC was over the limit or that you had drugs in your system, making it easy to convict you.
Without the blood test, the prosecutor has a much harder job. They can still convict you under CVC § 23152(a), but only if they can prove you were physically or mentally impaired by a substance while driving. Whether you were “impaired” is a subjective call and hard to prove in court.
Having a test result is so important in DUI cases that the police inherently have implied consent to take your blood if they have reason to suspect you’re under the influence. In other words, fighting the blood test can make the difference between getting convicted and walking free.
Request a Split to Retest Your Blood Sample
When your blood gets drawn for a blood test, the labs don’t use the entire sample. The other half, under law, gets reserved for at least a year. This reserve blood sample allows you to retest your blood to see if the initial lab results were accurate.
Doing this is known as splitting your blood test. Getting a second opinion on your blood can mean the difference between proving your innocence or getting convicted of a DUI. Even if your retest shows a higher BAC concentration, don’t worry. You don’t have to submit that result as evidence. Splitting your blood test can only work in your favor.
Can I Still Fight the Blood Test if I Really Was Drinking or Using Drugs?
Yes, and this is common. The law doesn’t state that you have to be stone sober to get behind the wheel. It simply says that your BAC must be below .08% and that you aren’t impaired by alcohol or drugs. Many people who fight and win their DUI cases did have some drinks or used drugs, but simply weren’t over the limit.
What Are the Best Strategies for Challenging Blood Test Results?
Challenging blood test results can be difficult. However, there are several strategies you and an experienced DUI lawyer can use.
Title 17 Violations
California Title 17 includes many regulations for how DUI blood samples are gathered, stored, and tested. These regulations make sure that officers do not use an alcohol-based swab before taking the blood sample, and they ensure that the blood does not ferment or change chemically while waiting to be tested. If any of these protocols were broken, your blood test result may not be valid.
Rising BAC Defense
If there was a long delay between when you first got pulled over and when you gave the blood sample, your BAC may have gone up during the extra time. This means it was lower when you were actually behind the wheel.
Lack of Probable Cause
If you have reason to believe that the police pulled you over and arrested you without probable cause, you have the ability to throw out your case so long as you can provide evidence showing this. Even if your blood test results show that you had a BAC of above .08%, it doesn’t matter if there was no cause for the officer to arrest you.
None of these strategies have to prove that you were sober and drug-free. They only have to call into question the accuracy of the blood test. If so, the judge may agree to suppress the test results as evidence, substantially weakening the case against you. This could get the prosecutor to drop the case or reduce the charge to something much less serious.
Can I Refuse a Blood Test?
Even though there is implied consent in California, you can still refuse to submit to a chemical test. However, understand that refusing to take a blood test can result in more strict penalties sanctioned against you should you get convicted.
For example, if you are over 21 and this is your first offense DUI, refusing a blood test will mean that you can’t get a restricted license to drive during your suspension period. It can also incur additional fines, jail time, and further restrictions on your vehicle or license. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to take a blood test either before or after your arrest.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Dispute My Blood Test Results?
If you feel your blood wasn’t taken correctly, the lab mishandled your test, or if you simply want a second opinion, you should get a reputable Los Angeles DUI lawyer to help you. Even on the first offense, the penalties for DUI can end up costing you more than retaining a lawyer.
A lawyer can help you dispute the results of your blood test and defend you in court. If you don’t know how to get started or what defense is best for your case, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as you can.
Talk to Our DUI Lawyers Today
Get in touch with our Los Angeles DUI lawyers today to learn more about how we can help you fight against your DUI charges. You can trust our years of experience helping hundreds of clients. For a free consultation, schedule an appointment with us online or over the phone. We are available 24/7.