Mounting a Los Angeles DUI Chain Of Custody Defense
DUI Chain of Custody Issues and the Importance of Proper Blood Sample Handling
When someone is charged with driving under the influence, the prosecution is responsible for producing compelling evidence that demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was driving under the influence. This evidence usually comes in the form of chemical testing, aimed at proving a level of intoxication present in the defendant’s system. Chemical testing can include either breath tests or blood tests, where a sample is taken from the driver and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
However, there are some legal issues associated with blood testing that the defense team can utilize to challenge the validity of the blood samples used in the case. One such issue is the “chain of custody,” which is a legally required document that is used to record the location and possession of the blood sample at all times. Establishing a clear chain of custody is important to demonstrate the authenticity and admissibility of evidence in DUI cases.
What is Chain of Custody?
Chain of custody is a legal principle that requires the prosecution to demonstrate that they can identify every person who had custody or contact with the blood sample, and that the sample was labeled, stored appropriately, and transported without tampering. The chain of custody must be demonstrated from the time the blood sample is drawn to its transport to a laboratory, and its presence in the lab itself. In other words, it’s a document that tracks who had control of the blood sample at all times.
A DUI blood sample goes through many hands, including the arresting police officer, the medical professional who took the sample, the transportation office, and various individuals at the testing laboratory. Every time the blood sample is moved, a chain of custody document must be filled out and signed. The document includes important information about the date and time the sample was received, as well as the name of the person responsible for transporting it.
Issues Associated with Chain of Custody
Due to the fact that the blood sample requires transport and storage for testing, various issues can arise that could render the blood sample inadmissible in court. These can include:
– Errors in labeling or documenting the sample
– Inaccurate identification of the sample
– Lack of refrigeration or proper temperature control
– Tampering or any evidence of mishandling
– Comingled or mixed up samples
These issues can lead to discrepancies in the handling of the blood sample, making the results of the test unreliable.
Proper Storage of Blood Samples
It is important to note that a blood sample must remain refrigerated at all times, within a specified temperature range. Improper storage can cause the blood to ferment, creating alcohol in blood samples and destroying any possibility for reliable testing. The failure to store a blood sample correctly can lead to further issues and cause evidence to be inadmissible.
DUI Lawyers and Chain of Custody Defenses
In DUI cases, chain of custody issues can be a valuable resource for the defense, as well as for challenging the validity of evidence being presented by the prosecution. A skilled and experienced DUI lawyer can analyze the blood sample’s handling and retrieve documentation to create reasonable doubt.
If you are facing DUI charges, you need an attorney who is familiar with the specific challenges of blood testing and chain of custody issues. As a matter of practice, the Los Angeles DUI lawyers at Todd Spodek offer a free initial consultation which involves assessing the chain of custody status of the blood sample and evaluates any other snags that you may be experiencing. This consultation is crucial in informing you about the depth and nature of your case and the appropriate legal action to follow.
Chain of custody is an essential aspect of blood testing in DUI cases, and it is the responsibility of the prosecution to demonstrate its continuity from inception to the point of testing. Any violation of the legal chain of custody requirements may negatively impact the validity of the DUI evidence being presented. A good DUI lawyer will work to ensure that the appropriate legal principles are strictly applied to make sure that any evidence presented is done so properly.
CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS