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6. Blood Tests

Blood Draw.

The California Vehicle Code requires that only certain licensed or qualified individuals in Napa may draw blood for testing, if acting at the request of a Napa County peace officer. These individuals are certified paramedics, or licensed as physicians and surgeons, registered nurses, vocational nurses, clinical laboratory scientists, clinical laboratory bioanalysts, or certified phlebotomy technicians, or unlicensed laboratory personnel employed by a licensed clinical laboratory and supervised and fully trained by one of the above. VC Section 23158, BPC Sections 1240-1246.5.

If the Napa County police report indicates that the individual who drew your blood for testing was not properly qualified under the law, then your Napa County DUI attorney can fight any effort to use the test results DUI blood draw against you in Napa County Superior Court or at the Napa DMV. Sometimes the police report simply lists a name without any further indication of what job title or professional qualifications are associated with the individual who drew your blood following the DUI arrest.

Further investigation may be conducted to determine if a defense of noncompliance is applicable to your blood draw. This approach may be particularly effective if other factors indicate a possible error in blood sample collection, such as your recollection of how much you drank differing widely from an unexpectedly high blood test result, or preliminary breath testing results are inexplicably different from the blood test result, or your own recollection of poor sanitary conditions during the blood draw or bruising after multiple blood draw attempts, or other evidence that the person drawing your blood was unqualified or committed meaningful errors.

Retesting Your Blood Sample.

Government testing mistakes do happen, even here in Napa. Click here to see an Example Of Lab Error, and here for Another Example Of Government Lab Problems. Moreover, if you took a blood test during the arrest process, the results may show a Problem Identified on Toxicology Report by the Department of Justice laboratory in Santa Rosa. For these and other credibility and reliability justifications, the government is required to retain your blood test specimen for one year at the Santa Rosa or Sacramento Department of Justice lab for retesting by you and your Napa County DUI lawyer at an independent lab if desired. Title 17 17CCR1219.1(f). Your Napa DUI lawyer can formally request a Napa County District Attorney authorization for retest, which is sent to the Department of Justice laboratory where a split sample of your blood is then sent to the lab of our choice for independent analysis.

Although this typically involves additional expense to you, nevertheless your Napa DUI attorney will explain to you that retesting can confirm blood type and DNA if there is a question whether the blood sample originally tested is in fact yours. Also, retesting can often lower the result number by .01 to .03 points, which may drop your result below .08 (or below .01 in the case of an under-21 zero tolerance DUI case) providing a better chance of a win at DMV, or additional assistance in plea bargaining efforts with the Napa County District Attorney to obtain a dismissal or reduction of charges, or avoid additional penalties for very high blood alcohol levels.

Click here to see a recent example of an independent lab analysis showing a New .07 Retest Result after retesting an initial .08 blood result from the Department of Justice. This effort, combined with a wet reckless bargain from the District Attorney, resulted in a complete victory at DMV and no driver license suspension at all for this client. Understand that all cases are unique and a blood retest in your case may not produce such victorious results, but some blood test cases benefit from a retest and other means for independently confirming or denying initial government assumptions and conclusions.

Hospital Draws.

If your blood was drawn by Napa hospital staff because paramedics or other authorized personnel were unavailable, or you were hospitalized due to injury, standard DUI blood draw techniques may not have been used (for example an alcohol swab may have been used to sterilize your arm). A local hospital draw can be challenged by a good Napa DUI lawyer if there is any suspicion that the results may be faulty due to incorrect blood draw procedures or that an unqualified individual performed the blood draw in your case. In addition, issues regarding patient-doctor confidentiality may arise and prevent the government's use of a Napa County hospital draw, particularly if the draw was not originally made pursuant to a request by a Napa County peace officer as required by the Vehicle Code. VC Section 23158(a). For a discussion about consulting with a Napa DUI lawyer regarding a hospital invoice for a blood draw before paying the bill, see this topic at the bottom of: Hire a Napa DUI Lawyer.

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Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

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Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Wine Country resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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