A DUI conviction is not as simple as getting arrested and charged. Law enforcement have a duty to collect evidence and the prosecution has a duty to prove that a crime wa committed. While building a case may involve officer and witness statements, surveillance evidence, or field sobriety tests, one of the primary evidential pieces in a DUI case is the blood-alcohol content sample, collected either by blood or breathalyzer. A recent case casts doubt on the legitimacy of breathalyzer evidence, as police in a U.S. county have wrongfully calculated breathalyzer results in hundreds of cases.
Every case should be reviewed by an experienced and independent advocate. DUI evidence presented by the prosecution can be suppressed if wrongfully obtained and all tests results should be reviewed to ensure that they were obtained and administered properly. Our Birmingham DUI attorneys are experienced in the investigation and defense of clients in Alabama. We will take the time to review the facts, of the case, scrutinize police reports, and determine if charges filed fit the nature of the offense. When possible, we will seek to reduce the charges and penalties in any DUI case.
According to reports, the District Attorney in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, has been improperly converting hospital blood tests to determine blood-alcohol content used as evidence. While it has been called an “unfortunate oversight” by the prosecutor, it should also be considered an utter miscarriage of justice, as countless defendants were hauled into court and charged, even though blood test results were improperly calculated and admitted as evidence. According to the prosecutor, the hospital began testing BAC through blood serum, or plasma, not blood in 2010. Using the plasma, rather than the whole blood sample, has resulted in alcohol content being overestimated by up to 15% in DUI cases.
When charging a defendant with DUI, blood-alcohol results are necessary to determine whether the driver was, in fact, over the legal limit. In some cases, the defendant can be charged with more severe crimes depending on how much over the limit. The incorrect calculations of blood-alcohol content may have led to, not only improper DUI charges, but more severe charges and penalties than a driver actually deserved. A driver is over the federal legal limit at .08, but testing the blood serum rather than whole blood, or improperly interpreting the results, can result in skewed outcomes and unfounded criminal charges.
Due to the improper calculations, the District Attorney has had to review more than 570 DUI cases. While many were eliminated as “unaffected by the discrepancy,” there were over 180 cases that may have been impacted and will now go through further review in the upcoming weeks. In some of these cases, the state will have to retry defendants, which could result in the dismissal or reversal of many cases. While the state has dismissed the issue as more of a “perceptual problem” than an actual problem, it sheds light on the potential danger of miscalculation of blood-alcohol results and the potentially negative consequences suffered by defendants.