Holding Forensic Labs Accountable for Mistakes in DUI Cases


An experienced DUI defense attorney knows how to thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case in order to identify any possible defenses. If you have undergone any chemical testing to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC), an attorney will certainly make sure the tests were not only performed correctly, but also that any results were processed correctly. Such processing generally takes place in the law enforcement agency’s forensic laboratory.

Forensic Lab Errors in DUI Testing

Though forensic labs are supposed to be run by professionals licensed in forensic science, these professionals are only human and may thus make human errors. Additionally, equipment can malfunction, sometimes without anyone noticing for quite some time. All of these factors may lead to inaccurate test BAC test results, wrongful charges, and the potential for a wrongful conviction.

First, forensic labs are charged with processing any blood samples taken by officers who perform a blood test to measure BAC. The following are examples of lab mistakes that may cause an inaccurate BAC result:

  •         Labeling a blood sample with the wrong name or otherwise mixing up blood samples;
  •         Storing a sample in location that is not sterile or that is the incorrect temperature to properly preserve it;
  •         Delaying processing of the sample for too long, allowing alcohol to ferment in the sample and raise the BAC reading;
  •         Not properly adding anticoagulants to preserve a sample;
  •         Accidentally adding ethyl alcohol products to the sample;
  •         Otherwise contaminating the sample;
  •         Allowing someone to handle the sample who is not properly trained, licensed, or authorized; and
  •         Waiting too long to prepare a results report, which could lead to reporting errors.

In addition to blood samples, forensic labs may also be in charge of making sure that all Breathalyzer equipment is in working order, properly calibrated, and giving accurate readings. If a device is not adequately maintained or calibrated, the readings may highly inaccurate. Even if the device is only slightly inaccurate, however, that discrepancy may be enough to push someone’s BAC over the legal limit and incite DUI charges.

Forensic labs should be held to the highest standard when processing BAC chemical tests, especially because these test results are often the primary piece of evidence against you if you are facing DUI charges. If there is even a slight doubt that the results are inaccurate due to lab mishandling, an experienced DUI lawyer can attempt to have that evidence thrown out. Even if the judge allows the chemical test evidence into court, an attorney can present evidence of the mishandling and potentially inaccurate results at trial to cast doubt on the reliability of the BAC results.

Contact an Attorney

Jay Tiftickjian and the team of highly skilled attorneys at the Tiftickjian Law Firm in Denver, Colorado understand how to hold forensic labs accountable for their mistakes and use any errors in your DUI defense. Investigating potential labs errors can be highly technical, and our firm has the resources and knowledge to obtain expert opinions and analysis when necessary. If you are facing DUI charges, do not hesitate to contact our office as soon as possible for help.

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