Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hospital Bans DUI Blood Tests

by ptbarone on November 18, 2009

Michigan's Forensic Crime Lab near Lansing

Michigan's Forensic Crime Lab near Lansing

In Michigan nearly all blood testing is done by one central lab run by the Michigan State Police.  This “whole blood” testing is performed at the State Lab using a process called headspace gas chromatography (GC).

Rarely in Michigan do DUI lawyers see non-whole blood or “serum” testing.  If serum testing is performed in Michigan, it is almost always only when there has been an injury accident.  Serum blood tests are also seen in OWI causing death cases.

In instances where a DUI accident has occurred the injured driver is usually taken to the hospital where his blood is drawn before any medical procedures are performed.  The blood is then quickly screened to determine a rough blood alcohol level.  This blood test is not intended to be used in the court room.

This hospital serum test is medically important insofar as it assists the medical personnel in determining what medical procedures can and cannot be performed.  This serum test is necessary because some medications and medical procedures cannot be performed where alcohol is present, and especially when high levels of alcohol are present.


Serum Blood Tubes

Serum blood testing was never designed to be used in court for prosecution purposes in part because it is forensically unreliable.  The reasons for this unreliability have been written about previously on WinBackYourLife.  Additionally, serum blood tests are always higher than whole blood tests.

In Michigan DUI cases, even if a serum or hospital test is performed, a second blood draw will occur, and this blood will be sent to the state lab for headspace GC testing.  It is almost never the case in Michigan where a person arrested for DUI faces prosecution based only on a hospital blood test.

This fact is not the case in all states.  In Pennsylvania for example, hospital blood tests are much more common.  Because serum tests are so unreliable, and therefore unfair to the DUI accused, attorney Justin McShane decided to take on the hospitals, and his efforts resulted in the hospitals deciding to stop testing blood in DUI cases.

You can read about serum testing and about this excellent legal work by the McShane Law Firm by visiting his blog entitled “WellSpan is to be commended, but why people who have been convicted for decades of a DUI should be upset”

If you have been charged in DUI in Michigan and your blood was draw, please contact the Barone Defense Firm today for your FREE Case Review!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

PA DUI Attorney November 20, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Great post. Thank you for the mention. It was in part your original exposure to this issue that fueled my curiosity into the issue and helped me to develop my ideas in this area of the unsuitability of hospital blood testing in the Courtroom. So, I thank you.

You mention Gas Chromatography. While it is the supposed “gold standard” of BAC testing, its reported result still is only valid if it is accurate, precise, repeatable, verified, traceable and true. There is a lot of potential and realized uncertainty as to the result. The uncertainty is still the function of good old fashoned human error: pre-collection error, collection error, transportation error, storage error, preparation error, analysis error, post-analysis error.

Bottom line: While you may have the most perfect machine ever invented and even if it that machine is dead on perfect in its analysis and reporting, there is still the human factor and the need for great scrutiny before accepting the BAC result. It comes down to human integrity. It comes down to being able to double check. It comes down to being sure.

Who doesn’t want to be able to double check any result before banking in it? Who doesn’t want to be sure? Who doesn’t want to get ti right?

-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, PA DUI Attorney


Wastante December 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

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