If you have been arrested for DUI in Orange County, you will likely need to take a blood test, as it is one of the most critical pieces of evidence in your case. Blood tests, however, are not always accurate or reliable. Many factors can affect blood test results, including the time of day you drank alcohol, how much food you ate, and if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.
If you have been arrested for DUI, give our team at Braden & Tucci a call. We will help you understand your rights and fight for justice on your behalf, seeking to minimize sentencing or have your case dismissed if possible.
A DUI blood test is a test that measures the amount of alcohol or drugs in a person's bloodstream. Blood tests are often used to determine if a person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Blood tests can be done at a police station, hospital, or medical facility.
A DUI blood test is performed by a phlebotomist, a medical professional specializing in drawing blood. The phlebotomist will first clean the area where blood will be drawn with an antiseptic. They will then insert a needle into a vein in your arm. The blood will then be drawn into a vial.
The vial will is filled with an anticoagulant and a preservative. The anticoagulant prevents the blood from clotting, and the preservative prevents the blood from spoiling. The blood is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will measure the amount of alcohol or drugs in your blood.
The results of a DUI blood test can be used as evidence in a criminal case. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, your blood test results can, and likely will, be used, in part, to determine the severity of your sentence.
You must submit to a chemical test if you are lawfully arrested for DUI in California; however, you can choose to take a breath or blood test if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is known as California's "implied consent" law.
The penalties are harsh if you refuse to consent to a chemical test after arrest. In addition to a fine of $125, mandatory jail time and license suspension will be added to the sentencing of your DUI conviction.
The conditions of being charged with a felony DUI are particular, so an officer cannot claim that they suspect you of a felony DUI unless:
- You have a prior felony DUI on your record
- It is your fourth DUI within ten years of another three DUI convictions
- You cause an accident that inflicts a severe injury or death
- You have two former DUI causing injury convictions on your record
The blood test, therefore, is more likely to be ordered without consent if you are suspected of DUID; however, even then, you must demonstrate probable cause to be suspected of drug use.
How Do I Know if My Blood Test Was Properly Administered?
When performing a blood test, guidelines must be followed. These are outlined in the California Code of Regulations Title 17.
The guidelines are as follows:
- The blood test must be performed by a qualified technician.
- The blood must be collected using a sterile technique.
- The blood must be stored in a proper container.
- The blood must be analyzed by a qualified laboratory.
- The results of the blood test must be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Title 17 also requires that the technician who collects the blood test provide the following information to the laboratory:
- The name of the person who was tested
- The date and time of the test
- The location of the test
- The type of test that was performed
- The results of the test
If you feel that any of these guidelines were violated or disregarded in the administration or analysis of your test, reach out to our team to schedule a free initial case consultation.
How Accurate Are Blood Tests for Alcohol?
The test measures the amount of alcohol in the blood by using a chemical reaction that converts alcohol into a different substance. The amount of this substance produced is then measured and used to calculate the amount of alcohol in the blood.
Theoretically, blood tests for alcohol are very accurate and can be used to determine whether a person was driving under the influence; this does not, however, make them consistently reliable. In other words, they are considered accurate and dependable under ideal, controlled conditions. Several factors can influence the results of a blood test.
The following factors can affect the results of a DUI blood test:
- Time Elapsed Since Drinking: The amount of alcohol in the blood will decrease over time, so the test will be less accurate if it is performed after a long period of time has elapsed since you consumed alcohol. In some cases, your BAC can rise between the time of your arrest and your test. When this is argued in court, it is called the rising blood defense.
- Contamination of a Blood Sample: It is not uncommon for blood samples to be mishandled throughout the testing process, which can lead to false positives if the sample becomes contaminated
- Weight and Body Composition: People with more muscle mass and less body fat tend to have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) after consuming the same amount of alcohol.
- Metabolism: Some people have a faster metabolism than others, which means they will eliminate alcohol from their system more quickly. This can affect the accuracy of the test.
- Presence of Other Substances in the Blood: Some medications and other substances can interfere with the test or cause the results to be inaccurate.
- Quality of the Blood Sample: If the blood sample is not properly collected or stored, it can affect the accuracy of the test.
- Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions can affect the absorption, metabolism, and elimination of alcohol. This can affect the accuracy of the test.
- Medications: Some medications can interact with alcohol and affect the test results.
- Food: Eating food can slow down the absorption of alcohol, affecting the test's accuracy.
As you can see, blood tests are very accurate when no additional factors affect the test results or influence how they are interpreted; however, the reality is that no testing situation is perfect, and there is always room for error.
This is why working with an experienced DUI lawyer is so important. We can locate small, often overlooked factors like the ones listed above and use them to challenge the validity of any chemical test you submit.
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If you have taken a DUI blood test in Orange County, we want to discuss your case with you. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling DUI cases, bringing over 100 cases to trial since our firm opened in 1997. We know the strategies that prosecutors will deploy against you, and we know how to fight them. We are on your side and are prepared to use every tool and method to pursue justice.