Can Blood Tests be Successfully Challenged in OUI cases?

Drunk driving cases are unique in that there is usually little to no physical evidence. In a theft, for example, the prosecution will try to show the stolen property was in the possession of the accused. In OUI/DUI cases, the main questions center around how much alcohol was present in the blood. To determine this, the police collect blood samples and run tests on them.

Blood samples are tested through a process called gas chromatography. This is a complex process that has the potential to yield reliable results, but only if the correct procedures and standards are followed. Often times they are not and it is the job of a highly trained OUI attorney to uncover these any flaws in the procedure and use that to challenge the results. Unfortunately, most attorneys are not aware that these tests can be successfully challenged.

Common Challenges to Blood Evidence

Bad Lab Technicians

Blood tests are conducted by humans and are subject to human error and bias. Many state crime labs are horribly under-staffed causing the technicians to take shortcuts and liberties with the testing. In some cases, results are submitted without any testing at all.

Remember Annie Dookhan? She was a technician at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute in Boston who admitted to tampering with evidence and forging test results. Last year more than 20,000 convictions were dropped because her evidence could not be trusted. The saddest part of all of this is that many people went to jail, paid fines, had their licenses suspended, and face humiliation because of this bad evidence.

Contamination of the Samples

There are very specific guidelines for handling blood samples which police and crime labs must follow to ensure the integrity of the samples. Deviating from those protocols can result in contamination. Here are some questions that need to be asked:

  • Is there a clear chain of custody?
  • Were the procedures documented correctly?
  • Were the tubes transported under the correct protocols?
  • Were the samples stored under the proper temperature?
  • Were the tubes shaken properly by the technician?

If these procedures were not followed correctly, this may be grounds to challenge the results of the blood test.

Calibration

Testing machines and instruments need to be maintained to ensure they are working properly. Part of that maintenance is making sure the machines are calibrated correctly. This calibration needs to be done as per a predefined schedule which needs to be documented. If the equipment was not calibrated correctly, it could cause the results to be compromised. Just think of the old analog bathroom scales. If the dial is not set to zero, the end result will not be reliable.

Documentation

Even if the testing was done correctly, it has no scientific standing if the procedures were not correctly documented. Without proper documentation, the evidence would be based on “an act of trust”. This is against scientific and legal standards.

Does your Attorney Know how to Challenge Blood Tests?

Not every attorney knows the science behind DUI blood testing. This is not taught in law school. Learning this science takes many years of dedicated study. Attorney Michael Bowser is Board Certified DUI Defense Specialist who has gone through rigorous examinations to earn this certification. He knows the forensic science involved in these cases. Most other lawyers do not.

Call 888-526-9737 now for a free case consultation.

Important Information for Massachusetts Teachers who are facing OUI charges

One of the most common questions from teachers who have been charged with an OUI/DUI offense is how it will affect their employment status. There is certainly cause for concern in this regards as there are policies in place which give the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education authority to access information about these charges and use it to make determinations about the eligibility of applicants.

 

If you are a teacher facing an OUI, there are two main concerns when it comes to your future as a teacher:

 

  1. Making sure your educator license does not get revoked, limited or suspended.
  2. Making sure your criminal history stays clear so that future employers do not see the conviction and use it as grounds not to hire you.

 

How an OUI can affect the status of your educators license

Under the CORI (criminal offender record information) policy, The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is authorized by the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) to access conviction and pending criminal case data for the purpose of screening license applicants as well as current holders of education licenses. The Department will then make a judgment on the suitability of the applicant. The Department has the right to refuse to license the individual or to take action to revoke, limit or suspend the individual’s license.

 

What this means is depending on the nature of the offense and your prior history, an OUI offense may affect the status of your educators license.

 

How an OUI can affect your employment status for many years to come

Since an OUI offense stays on your criminal history, it will show up on background checks any time you apply to work at a school, no matter which state it is in. Background checks apps and programs are ubiquitous. Teachers, administrators, parents, and even students can easily find out if you have a drunk driving conviction. This can lead to not only a world of embarrassment, but it may also influence administrators not to hire you. In the real world, when there are two applicants, one of which has a clean record and the other has an OUI conviction, which do you think administrators will prefer?

 

This is why it is important that you get the correct legal information about your charge and take steps to fight against a conviction. The important thing to remember is that OUI/DUI cases can be won. An experienced attorney who knows forensic science will be able to set up challenges to the evidence collected.

 

It’s not too late to take the steps to preserve your future. Don’t let your career go to waste over one mistake. Call 888-526-9737 now for your free, detailed case consultation.

Understanding the differences between DUI, DWI and OUI charges

There are a number of different charges that can be brought against you if you operate a motor vehicle after you have used drugs or alcohol in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Regardless of which offense you are charged with, you will need an experienced drunk driving defense attorney to help you defend yourself.

There are three primary charges that can be filed against you, and it is important to know and understand the similarities and the differences of each one.

DUI. Driving Under the Influence. If you’re charged with a first offense of DUI, then it will be categorized as an Operating Under the Influence (OUI) offense and can result in harsh penalties. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, most drivers will not receive maximum fines and punishment, but even lesser penalties mean thousands of dollars in fines. To be charged with a DUI, a person must exceed the minimum threshold of .08% blood alcohol level (BAC). Upon conviction, a first-time offender can expect to receive a license suspension of anywhere from 45 to 90 days, one year of probation, and mandatory participation in a 16-week drug and alcohol education program.

OUI. Operating Under the Influence. The standard to be charged with OUI is different than being charged with DUI. With a DUI, you must actually be operating a vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For an OUI, you can be charged if the keys are in the ignition, even if you pulled off to the side of the road or are caught behind the wheel while not in motion but still under the influence. First-time OUI’s are case specific, meaning that penalties and possible convictions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. While there are no mandatory minimums for jail time, a conviction can bring a license suspension of 45 to 90 days. That increases if a driver refuses to submit to testing under implied consent laws, with suspensions rising to up to 180 days. Fines vary widely but will fall between $500 and $5000 most of the time. Court costs and the costs of completing the sentence will add considerable amounts as well.

DWI. Driving While Intoxicated. This is essentially the same charge as DUI. Sometimes you will see a DUI charge referred to as a DWI. It carries the same penalties as a DUI. In New Hampshire, DWI is related to alcohol, and DUI is related to drugs as the main distinguishing feature between the two charges.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

DUI Defense Specialist certification is the one qualification you should be looking for

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, you’re facing a pretty serious charge, one that could have many long-term repercussions in your life. If convicted, you will be subject to fines, possible jail time, and impacts to your work and social life.

You must mount a strong and immediate legal defense if you want to have your case dismissed or your penalties reduced. Finding the right attorney to handle your case is the first order of business. On the surface, there are many competent attorneys in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that can represent you, but before you make a final decision, you need to undertake your own due diligence to make sure you get the best possible representation.

When looking for a DUI defense attorney, you’ll want to retain one that has several years of experience with cases such as yours. You’ll also want to know the attorney’s success rate as well. In addition, you’ll want to know if the attorney representing you has experience with the particular court and/or judge you will be facing when you have your case heard. That familiarity can pay dividends that will benefit you as you work your way through the process. Your attorney should also be a good negotiator so that they can work to perhaps strike some kind of plea bargain to have your penalties reduced, saving you time and money.

Many attorneys meet these criteria, but there is one more standard that sets very few attorneys apart from most others. There are just a very select few who have taken it upon themselves to become a Board Certified DUI Defense Specialist. Undertaking this rigorous certification signals a deep commitment to specializing in DUI defense cases.

To be Board Certified, an applicant must pass written and oral testing to prove they have significant knowledge in this particular area of law. Examinations focus on scientific issues, NHTSA guidelines on field sobriety tests and drug recognition tests and a broad spectrum of other legal and ethical issues related to drunk driving cases. Applicants who seek certification must also satisfy certain minimum legal practice requirements and maintain an active DUI defense practice going forward.

Bowser Law serves clients in communities throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.