Investigation is a reminder that DWI blood tests are not foolproof

Many DWI defendants in New York may think that they have no chance to successfully fight a conviction if the blood-alcohol evidence indicates guilt. While the existence of incriminating blood or breath evidence can make a case tough, DWI defendants should not give up. There are still viable defense options.

In some cases, blood and breath evidence is not collected lawfully, and as such the evidence should be thrown out. In other cases, when a blood or breath sample was rightfully obtained, it may be possible to challenge the evidence. In many cases, blood-alcohol tests and breath tests are flawed.

For example, a toxicology lab worker is currently under investigation in Tennessee after it was determined that at least one blood test he reviewed was far from correct. In that case, the lab worker determined that a driver's blood-alcohol content was .24 percent, and an independent test later revealed that the driver's BAC was only .01 percent - meaning he was sober.

While the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has stated that it is confident the mistake is isolated, others are calling into question all of the test results that came out of the lab in the year the worker was employed there.

For now, the worker remains under investigation, and if a pattern of error is uncovered, the state may need to consider having all of the blood samples that the worker handled re-tested.

While this happened in another state, it is a reminder that blood-alcohol tests are not infallible here in New York. They are subject to human error, and such errors can result in major injustices.

In the case mentioned above, the driver had been charged with vehicular homicide after he was thought to have been drunk when he was involved in a fatal car accident. After the independent test revealed that he was sober during the crash, the charges were dismissed.

Source:, "TN toxicology tests under scrutiny as TBI investigates lab worker," Carley Gordon, Oct. 23, 2013

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