DUI Cases and the Blood Alcohol Test
Blood tests in Georgia are becoming more and more common. Since the Georgia Legislature changed the law regarding forced blood draws, officers have started collecting blood samples on a regular basis.
Typically an officer will request a breath test if he suspects it you have only alcohol in your system. A breathalyzer test is the fastest and easiest test at their disposal. However, if an officer has elected to seek a blood test, then it is probably because one of the two following reasons.
First, if the officer believes a driver has drugs in his system (prescription or illicit), he will likely ask for a blood alcohol test. He will first ask the driver to voluntarily consent to the blood test within minutes after the arrest.
Usually the officer will read the Georgia Implied Consent Warning (on an orange card) in front of his patrol car so that the reading of the warning is recorded by video equipment installed below the rear-view mirror in his car. The officer wears a microphone so that the recording will also capture not only the reading but also the driver's response.
The second most common reason an officer seeks a blood alcohol test instead of a breath test is because a driver refuses to voluntarily submit to the breath test. In Georgia, drivers have a qualified right to refuse chemical testing once they've been arrested for a DUI.
However, if you refuse, the officer may ask a judge to issue a search warrant to test your blood. This method is gaining popularity throughout Georgia and in some cases law enforcement will conduct roadblocks with a judge on-scene to sign search warrants on the spot.
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Understanding the Blood Alcohol Test in Georgia DUI Cases
Whether the driver consents to giving a blood sample, or is forced to give one by way of a search warrant, the officer will take the driver to a qualified blood drawer. Frequently this means going to a hospital to have a nurse draw the blood. Sometimes the jail will have an officer certified to draw blood, or occasionally, depending on the location, the officer will take the driver to a fire station for the blood draw.
Possible Defenses to DUI Alcohol Blood Test
No matter who draws the blood, the officer is supposed to provide the blood collection kit. These kits do expire, so it is important for the officer to confirm that the kit has not expired.
It is essential that the only items used in the blood alcohol test are those found in the kit. In hospitals, nurses routinely disregard this requirement, primarily because they are accustomed to using the hospital's equipment. Nurses tend to prefer the hospital's needles and sterilizing wipes for these types of blood draws.
This is problematic because the only type of sterilizing wipe that is approved for blood draws in Georgia is one that is alcohol-free. This makes sense because there is a danger that by wiping the skin with alcohol immediately prior to drawing the blood creates the very real possibility that the needle will draw out an infinitesimal amount of raw alcohol along with the blood. This kind of contamination can result in exceptionally high blood test results that can lead to wrongful DUI convictions for those who do not mount a successful defense strategy.
It is very difficult to prove whether the nurse used hospital equipment during the blood draw without properly subpoenaing the relevant witnesses, along with a thorough cross-examination of the nurse, the arresting officer and the GBI toxicologist.
Examining the amount of blood drawn can lead to discovering potential problems with the vacuum seal on the blood vial. If the vacuum seal is compromised, then there is a real possibility that candida may have contaminated the sample.
Some diabetics have acetone in the their blood already, without consuming alcohol.
The presence of acetone can mistakenly inflate the results of your blood test where the gas chromatograph failed to successfully separate the two similar molecules.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Atlanta, Attorney Erin Gerstenzang is here to speak with you today to begin exploring all avenues available to you for challenging problematic blood results in your case.