I just learned more about laboratory blood alcohol testing in the last four (4) full days of coursework in Chicago than I learned in the last 18 years of DUI Defense practice in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Board Certification as a DUI Defense Specialist requires that I possess a superior knowledge of all alcohol testing practices. This latest seminar brought me to a new level of understanding of a critical phase of many DUI Defense cases, the state laboratory blood alcohol test. My sincerest thanks to Attorney Justin McShane, of Pennsylvania, Attorney Josh Lee of Oklahoma, Attorney Ron Moore of California, Lee Polite, Ph.D. , Harold McNair, Ph.D. and Lew Fox of Axiom Training Institute
The American Chemical Society’s 10th Hands-on 40 hour Forensic Chromatography course ended today at 4:30 p.m. in Chicago at the Axiom Training Institute. I’m proud to be among the small group of DUI defense lawyers in the country (180) that have completed this extraordinary course. I look forward to bringing back home to Massachusetts and New Hampshire a new found level of confidence in challenging blood alcohol test results in DUI Defense cases. Two of the world’s leading Gas Chromatography experts (McNair/Polite) taught a group of nineteen lawyers from several states, a Pharmacist, a Physiologist and a Neurologist, the basics of Gas Chromatography and the intricacies of good laboratory practice, testing protocol and courtroom defense strategies that work. Most revealing was the actual use, manipulation and breakdown of an Agilent (HP) Gas Chromatograph (instrument) and in-depth interpretation of Chromatograms (test results). Think “Telegraph v. Telegram.” It’s one thing to listen to a lecture about a testing device, it’s quite another to pull apart the machine, and then put it back together with and understanding of what each part does, and why it is important to the proper function of a machine which can generate “valid” results. This course was jointly taught by the man who utilized the first Gas Chromatograph in the United States in 1956 (McNair).
Needless to say, the man behind the curtain is revealed. Government laboratory blood alcohol testing is subject to the same human error as any other difficult endeavor. Mistakes are made in the processes of collecting, storing and testing blood samples and “reasonable doubt” lies in the ability to recognize the important issues among the data from the lab that most lawyers would not recognize, never mind request. Not surprisingly, data manipulation can also with the use of a Gas Chromatograph and the production and interpretation of a Chromatogram. A DUI defense lawyer must be capable of recognizing the inconsistencies caused by data manipulation. The Lawyers can learn more than the “button pushers” to protect the rights of the accused driver. This lawyer has.
Pictures From the Trip