2,200 DWI Cases Impacted by Crime Lab Errors

Prosecutors have admitted errors in blood alcohol test results in 2,200 DWI investigations. The crime lab errors occurred at a lab in Orange County, California. The lab error was caused by a calibration problem in a machine used to test blood alcohol samples. The calibration error will affect well over a thousand samples, including samples that may result in a higher blood alcohol content when retested on a properly calibrated machine. The lab errors are so worrisome that local authorities have asked the State Health Department to review the lab’s standards and procedures.

Lack of Confidence in Blood Alcohol Content

Many people associated with a DUI case are always concerned with what a person’s blood alcohol content was at the time of the arrest. Lab problems like these in California are always a concern because for every lab problem that is discovered there is the possibility that many more problems are not discovered. Police and prosecutors always like to harp on a blood alcohol test as if those tests are perfect and infallible, but lab problems do exist that affect the accuracy of the blood alcohol tests. Unfortunately, too many people, including prosecutors, give more credit to the blood alcohol test than the observations of the suspect or the results of the field sobriety tests. When the results of field sobriety tests do not support the result of a blood alcohol test, it may be an indication that the blood alcohol test is inaccurate.

Standards for Scientific Evidence

Many courts almost automatically admit breath or blood test evidence. Given these current lab problems, judges should begin to take a more critical look at the foundation for these chemical tests prior to their admission into evidence. If the tests cannot meet the scientific standards, then they should not be admitted into evidence. Further, defense attorneys should vigorously attack the flaws inherent with these chemical tests at trial. These tests are not perfect and it is the job of skilled defense attorneys to illustrate that point for judges and juries.

If you have been arrested for DWI and took a breath test in Missouri, please read about the problems with Missouri’s breath test system.  It is important that you call DWI attorney Jason Korner at (314) 409-2659 so he can help you preserve your rights and challenge any pending driver’s license suspension.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “O.C. Crime Lab finds more errors in DUI testing,” Richard Winton, November 22, 2013.