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how to get a troubled teen back on track

4 Reasons to Suppress Blood-Sample Evidence in a DUI Case

by Bernard Rice

Along with breathalyzer testing and field sobriety results, many courts throughout the U.S. also rely on blood samples as evidence in DUI cases. Although a blood sample seems like a slam dunk, there are several ways that such evidence can be suppressed. The following discusses four grounds upon which your attorney can request a motion to suppress blood-sample evidence.

The Blood Sample Was Taken Without Consent

In most states, law enforcement officials must not only have probable cause to obtain a blood sample but also must gain your consent to obtain a sample. If you refuse, and a police officer decides to obtain the sample regardless of your consent, this could prove to be grounds for suppression.

There is a possible exception, however. Some states allow law-enforcement officials to obtain blood samples based on implied consent. In these states, you automatically consent to blood alcohol content (BAC) testing when you obtain your license and, as a result, must submit to testing if you're suspected of driving while intoxicated.

The Sample Was Drawn by Non-Medical Staff

A valid blood sample for DUI testing must be drawn in a hospital by licensed medical personnel or by a trained paramedic at the scene. To ensure that the sample isn't tampered with or improperly handled during the draw, a sworn law-enforcement official must also be present to witness the process. If someone other than a licensed physician, nurse, or certified paramedic obtains a DUI blood sample or a police officer isn't present to witness the sample being taken, the sample itself can be suppressed.

The Sample Was Improperly Stored or Damaged

It's not out of the ordinary for blood samples to be damaged or destroyed through mishandling or improper storage. Blood evidence must be kept in a cool environment and handled with extraordinary care in order to preserve the quality of the sample. In addition, the DUI kit containing the blood sample must also be sealed, initialed, and accounted for throughout storage and transport. If the testifying officer or other witnesses can't accurately account for the sample's condition or whereabouts during certain times, it's assumed that the chain of custody was compromised.

Your Medical Condition Caused a False Positive 

Certain medical conditions, including acid-reflux disease and uncontrolled diabetes, can also create a false positive for any DUI blood-test result. For instance, a buildup of acetone in those with uncontrolled diabetes can contribute to elevated BAC levels. Those with gastrointestinal issues may also have higher-than-normal BAC levels due to the effects of intestinal fermentation. It's important to disclose to your attorney any medical issues that could adversely affect the results of your DUI blood test.