Contact Us for a Free Consultation (412) 471-5000

How Is A DUI Blood Test Conducted In Pennsylvania?

Typically, a motorist will first be placed under arrest, handcuffed, and transported to a local hospital where the blood is drawn. When the motorist gets to the hospital, they are signed in and then taken to an area where a phlebotomist will draw their blood. Then, they will give the blood to the officer. Many people call the hospital and ask about the result. But, the hospital gives the blood to the officer who takes it back to the police station, refrigerate it (hopefully) and then take it to either the county crime lab or the state police crime lab for analysis. If drugs are involved, the police will sometimes send the blood out to a lab in Philadelphia for determining what drugs were in the blood.

Roving DUI patrols are becoming more prevalent. This means that the police will put a phlebotomist in one of the local police departments, and all the DUI arrests on a given night will be taken to that police department so that the phlebotomist can draw the blood. It will be packaged there and left for the officer to take to the county crime lab for analysis.

When Is A Blood Test Used Over A Breath Test In a DUI Case?

The choice between a blood test and a breath test is made by the officer. Some police departments only perform breath tests, while others don't even own a device and only perform blood tests. So, it truly comes down to the policy of a particular police department.

Can I Refuse A Blood Test The Same As A Breath Test? What Are The Consequences?

In 2016, a United States Supreme Court case distinguished between blood tests and breath tests. With a blood test, the police are supposed to get a warrant. For breath tests, they police don't need a warrant. But for blood testing, we are finding that a lot of police departments are simply asking motorists to give them their blood, and we have been filing motions in court regarding all the blood tests. Motorists should be told that they have a constitutional right to refuse the test. Now, if they refuse the test, our position is that they can't be penalized in the criminal system, but they will still face the license suspension consequences of a refusal in the civil system.

How Accurate Are Blood Tests In DUI Cases?

The blood testing process depends on many variables, and they all have to be working in order for there to be a valid test. There is a big difference between crime lab testing and testing at a hospital. Blood testing at a hospital is the most unreliable of blood tests because the blood isn't being drawn for forensic court purposes. It's typically being drawn for treatment purposes. People have their blood drawn in the hospital because the doctor needs to know right away if a person was injured in an accident, and what drugs they can administer. It's not set up with the same forensic protocols as a county crime lab test.

The crime lab tests are usually done on what's called the gas chromatograph. Those devices are fraught with error. They are subject to maintenance, calibration, etc. There is a whole packet of materials that can be obtained by a lawyer and sent to an expert for review in order to determine whether or not the hospital or the crime lab produced a valid test. Often, they don't and people don't know that. They are used to going into a hospital or a doctor's office and getting a test result, but when you want to use that result in a court case, then it's a whole different ballgame. It's important for a lawyer to have a background in that area and to know the science behind blood testing. That way, the lawyer can request the proper documentation.

What Are Some Defense Strategies Used To Defend Against Chemical Tests?

There are several areas of defense, and one involves the gas chromatograph. The gas chromatograph will produce a result and print out a graph. There should be a line for alcohol on the graph. The graph could have two or three, or even four other lines, and that would mean that there are other substances present. So, contamination is a big issue in blood alcohol testing. Whether the gas chromatograph was properly maintained and calibrated is a very big issue. In addition, whether or not the appropriate solutions were used and not expired is a big issue. There is a whole checklist that a lawyer needs to go through in order to determine whether or not the blood was properly evaluated.

What is the Mike Sherman Difference?

Mike Sherman has unique experience and knowledge which he uses to protect his clients.
  • Mike Sherman is a former attorney for the Pennsylvania State Police. He knows both sides of the law and uses that knowledge to benefit his clients.
  • Mike Sherman wrote “the” Pennsylvania textbook on Pennsylvania DUI law, Driving Under the Influence Law and Practice.
  • He uses a scientific method to investigate your case. Relying on his deep understanding of forensic science, he picks apart the evidence against you and looks for errors he can challenge. He then carefully prepares your case to highlight these issues and put you in the best position.

For more information on the consequences of DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 412-471-5000 today.

Related Articles

Related Topics

Contact Us Today

Mike Sherman Law is committed to answering your questions about DUI defense, homicide by vehicle while DUI, aggravated assault while DUI, homicide by vehicle, CDL defense, driving while on a DUI suspension, blood or breath tests refusals, and criminal defense law issues in Pittsburgh.

We offer a free consultation and we’ll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.