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OC Crime Lab Produces Faulty Blood Alcohol Results

Posted by Terry A. Wapner | Dec 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Dozens of DUI cases could be affected based on a recent discovery involving an Orange County crime lab. It was discovered that the lab has been producing inaccurate results after testing individuals' blood alcohol levels. These inaccuracies are likely to affect many dozens of DUI cases.

Since the discovery, hundreds more blood samples are in question. It has been said that blood samples taken that were taken as far back as May 2013 could be false. In the past few weeks, over 900 people have been notified via mail that their case may have been one of the ones affected by this inexcusable error.

While the crime lab has taken responsibility for its mistakes, it is the defendants who are forced to deal with the repercussions. Some cases have already been decided and many were convicted because of these false results. Now, they must re-investigate and the defendants are left having to go through this difficult process all over again. Meanwhile, other cases are still pending, leaving clients and their attorneys to review and possibly revise defense strategies. This all boils down to a big waste of time, money, and effort for all involved.

So, how does something like this even happen? Well, to begin with, it happens more often than anyone would like to admit. The issue involves quality control - or more appropriately, the lack of it. In this specific instance, there was a mistake made with the machines used to test the blood.

Generally, a crime lab will test the same blood sample twice using two different machines. Once those results are gathered, the average of the two readings will be calculated. The error in Orange County occurred when the lab calibrated one of the machines but “failed to input a data point in the software.” This failure led to the machine being thrown off by .003 percentage points.

This mistake went unnoticed for quite some time. In fact, it was not realized until an audit was done at the lab. Personnel from the Orange County crime lab tried to justify this by saying that the error was too small to alert any of the employees. Unfortunately, this comes as a small consolation to the hundreds of people who received the notification alerting them to the fact that their case may be one of the ones affected.

This error at the Orange County crime lab is just another of many examples of inaccuracies that are associated with chemical tests used to test the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of a driver who has been stopped under suspicion of DUI.

The typical methods that are used to test BAC are breath and blood. While these tests are used on a regular basis throughout the state of California, that does not mean they always produce accurate results. The situation in Orange County makes that perfectly clear. Because of these types of inaccuracies, it is important for you to speak with an experienced DUI attorney who can help.

I have spent over two decades defending DUI charges for clients in Fresno and the surrounding areas. I receive training on the lab machinery and protocol every year. There are are maybe 3 attorneys in Fresno with this extensive training. Without it, discoveries like this cannot be made. Your attorney must know the process to fight against faulty and inaccurate results.

If you have been arrested for DUI, call my office today and I will help you to understand your options and will ensure that your rights are protected!

About the Author

Terry A. Wapner

Terry A. Wapner confines his practice to the defense of persons accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and related crimes.


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