Analyzing Blood Tests in DUI Cases
Lee Lockett recently attended (July 2023) a four day intensive Lab workshop in Chicago where he learned how toxicologists in crime labs process and test blood specimens to determine the presence of alcohol and drugs, as well as their respective concentrations. This exclusive seminar took place at the Axion Labs and Training Institute that is owned and operated by world renowned expert in Forensic Toxicology/Headspace Gas Chromatography, Dr. Lee Polite, MBA, PhD. Dr. Polite has trained hundreds of government scientists working as crime lab analysts for the DEA, FBI, and the Department of Defense.
This seminar was invaluable as it involved training on the precise method used by crime labs in Florida, Headspace Gas Chromatography & Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. The instrument used to test blood specimens for ethanol (drinking alcohol) is the Gas Chromatograph. Lee was able to not only inject samples into the instrument himself, but he was trained how to run calibration tables and install critical components of the instrument such as the capillary column. This lab training afforded Lee the ability to understand what can go wrong in the lab and what errors will affect the reliability of the blood test result. The training has also armed Lee with the skills to vigorously represent his clients in serious DUI cases involving blood tests and challenge the government’s team of experts and toxicologists who will testify against them.
Before an attorney can adequately represent someone facing DUI charges based on blood testing, that attorney has to know what to look for when the government hands over the voluminous litigation packet including all the crime lab documents (e.g., chromatograms, SOPs, calibration curves, etc). Without sufficient training, these documents are worthless as they are written in a different “language” involving complex scientific terms, techniques, charts and tables that mean nothing to the un-trained eye. This training has given Lee more of an understanding of how Headspace Gas Chromatography works than most lab analysts themselves.
COMMON ERRORS AFFECTING BLOOD TESTING:
The following is a list of just a few of the things to look for when determining whether or not a blood alcohol test result has been compromised.
- Was the blood sample preparation process strictly followed? Proper sample preparation requires proper temperature settings, proper sample dilution with the internal standard and sufficient equilibration times.
- Sample preparation procedures also dictate that all test vials should contain the correct sample volume as well.
- Were the required control samples and blanks run prior to and after the batch samples being tested?
- Was the headspace vial heated to the required temperature prior to injection into the Gas Chromatograph.
- Was the oven set to the required temperature?
- Was the appropriate capillary column used? (e.g, DB-1 v. DB-ALC)
- Was the test run in a way that allows the lab analyst to rule out blood sample carry over from previous samples?
- Did the compounds come off the column at sufficiently different times so as to improve qualitative analysis and avoid co-elution?
- Did the compounds come off the column in a way that allowed for proper quantitative analysis?
- Did the chromatograms contain evidence of column contamination or additional, un-identified peaks?
Just because some lab report says that someone’s blood sample contained drugs such as cocaine or an alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit doesn’t mean much unless the government has the proper documentation to back up such claims. Proof of proper testing procedures is critical, and if the government doesn’t have it, then test results can be suppressed and tossed out of court. Even if that can’t be done, finding enough issues with a particular test can oftentimes result in favorable negotiations for lesser charges and a better offer from the government.
Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Jacksonville, FL
Protect your rights and future today! If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Jacksonville, don’t wait another moment. Reach out to Attorney Lee Lockett, the trusted and experienced Jacksonville DUI defense lawyer who will fight tirelessly for your case. With a proven track record of success and in-depth knowledge of local laws, Lee Lockett is the advocate you need on your side. Your freedom and reputation are at stake, so don’t delay. Call Attorney Lee Lockett now for a confidential consultation and take the first step towards securing the best possible outcome for your DUI case.