Blood Tests

Thompson & Hiller Defense Firm

Blood Tests

Blood Tests & Reliability

Questioning the reliability of blood tests in DUI or DUAC cases? Thompson & Hiller’s comprehensive guide sheds light on the factors that can compromise blood test accuracy, from collection methods to lab analysis. Equip yourself with crucial information and discover how we challenge the reliability of blood tests in South Carolina’s legal landscape to defend your rights effectively.

Blood Tests and Their Significance in DUI Cases

What is a Blood Test for DUI?

A blood test for a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) offense is a laboratory procedure aimed at measuring the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or presence of drugs in your bloodstream. Unlike breath tests, which provide immediate results, blood tests are generally considered more accurate but are invasive and must be conducted in a controlled environment, usually a hospital.

When is a Blood Test Necessary?

In South Carolina, blood tests are often administered in specific circumstances. These include:

  • When a breathalyzer test is not feasible, such as when the accused has a medical condition affecting the reliability of a breath test.
  • When the suspected driver is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consent.
  • Following a severe accident involving injuries or fatalities.

Blood tests can also be requested if the officer suspects impairment due to substances that a breath test can’t detect, such as certain drugs.

Legal Ramifications of a Blood Test

The legal implications of a positive blood test result for DUI can be serious. In South Carolina, a BAC of 0.08% or higher constitutes a per se DUI, meaning you can be charged based solely on the BAC level, without additional evidence of impairment. Refusal to undergo a blood test can also have consequences, including an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

The Reliability of Blood Tests

While blood tests are generally considered the most accurate form of testing for BAC or drugs, they are not infallible. Several factors can affect the reliability of blood tests:

  1. Chain of Custody: Proper documentation must be maintained to show who collected, handled, and analyzed the sample.
  2. Storage: Improper storage can lead to sample contamination.
  3. Lab Errors: Mistakes in the laboratory can also lead to false positives or inaccurate results.

Why Choose Thompson & Hiller for Challenging Blood Tests?

Understanding the intricacies of blood tests and their legal ramifications is crucial for building a strong DUI defense. Thompson & Hiller are adept at questioning the reliability of blood tests, from the moment of collection to laboratory analysis. We explore every avenue to challenge the evidence against you and strive for the best possible outcome for your case.

If you are facing a DUI charge based on a blood test, immediate legal assistance is vital. Contact Thompson & Hiller today for a free consultation to understand your rights and the defenses available to you in South Carolina’s complex legal landscape.

When Are Blood Tests Necessary for DUI Offenses?

Navigating the labyrinth of DUI laws and regulations is complex, especially when it comes to the necessity of blood tests. In South Carolina, certain circumstances may warrant a blood test over other forms of testing, such as breath tests. Understanding these specific scenarios can empower you in your legal journey. Thompson & Hiller offers this comprehensive guide to help you understand when blood tests become a necessary part of DUI cases in the state.

Medical Conditions

Blood tests may be deemed necessary if the individual accused of a DUI has a medical condition that affects the reliability of a breath test. Conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or even diabetes can potentially skew breath test results. In such cases, a blood test serves as a more accurate method for determining Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) or the presence of other substances.

Unconscious or Incapable of Consent

If a person suspected of DUI is unconscious following an accident or for medical reasons, a blood test may be administered as it’s impossible to obtain their consent for a breath test. In such extreme circumstances, the absence of consent is overridden by the imperative to gather evidence of intoxication or impairment.

Severe Accidents Involving Injuries or Fatalities

In cases involving severe vehicular accidents that result in injuries or fatalities, blood tests are usually considered mandatory for determining impairment. This is especially true if the accused is being investigated for felony DUI, where the stakes and penalties are substantially higher. Blood tests provide the most accurate and detailed evidence, which is crucial in severe cases.

Suspected Use of Drugs

While breath tests are good at detecting alcohol consumption, they are not equipped to identify drug use, especially specific types of narcotics or prescription medications. If law enforcement suspects that a driver is impaired due to substances that a breathalyzer can’t detect, a blood test becomes essential for gathering evidence.

Repeat Offenders

For those who have had prior DUI convictions, a blood test may be ordered as a more stringent form of evidence collection. Given the escalated consequences for repeat offenses, the state may opt for blood tests to build a robust case against the accused.

Understanding the Blood Test Kit in DUI Cases

Facing a DUI charge can be a bewildering experience, and when a blood test is involved, understanding the process becomes even more crucial. At Thompson & Hiller, we believe that an informed client is an empowered client. This comprehensive guide walks you through what a blood test kit for DUI cases in South Carolina entails, what you can expect, and the questions or concerns you should raise during the process.

What’s Inside a Blood Test Kit?

A standard blood test kit for DUI cases typically includes:

  1. Sterile Needles: Used for drawing the blood sample.
  2. Vacuum Tubes: Designed to collect and store the blood sample.
  3. Antiseptics: Alcohol pads or wipes to clean the skin before drawing blood.
  4. Labels and Seals: To mark the sample with the date, time, and identification details.
  5. Chain of Custody Form: A document that tracks who handles the blood sample from collection to analysis.

What to Expect During the Blood Test

Here’s a breakdown of what you can typically expect:

  1. Cleanliness: The area where the blood will be drawn should be sanitized.
  2. Identification: Make sure you or the person drawing your blood properly labels the sample.
  3. Procedure: A healthcare professional usually draws the blood. Expect a small pinch from the needle.
  4. Documentation: A chain of custody form should be filled out, detailing who is handling your sample at each stage.
  5. Storage and Transport: Your blood sample will be securely sealed and transported to a laboratory for analysis.

Questions or Concerns to Voice

During the blood test procedure, it’s crucial to be vigilant and feel free to voice concerns or questions such as:

  1. Who is Authorized to Draw Blood?: Ensure that a certified healthcare professional is drawing your blood.
  2. Is the Kit Sterile?: Ask if all the elements of the kit, including the needle and vacuum tubes, are sterile to avoid contamination.
  3. Chain of Custody: Inquire about how your sample will be stored and transported to ensure it is handled correctly.
  4. What Tests Will Be Conducted?: Understand which substances the blood test will screen for, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or both.
  5. Rights and Consent: You have the right to know the implications of refusing a blood test and the legal repercussions you may face.

The Importance of Chain of Custody in DUI Blood Tests

The credibility of blood test results in DUI cases largely hinges on the chain of custody, a vital but often overlooked aspect of the legal process. This term refers to the documented pathway that your blood sample travels from the moment it’s taken from your vein to its analysis at a laboratory. A broken or mishandled chain of custody can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case, potentially leading to your charges being reduced or dismissed. In this guide, Thompson & Hiller explore the significance of chain of custody in DUI blood tests and how it plays into your defense strategy in South Carolina.

What is Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody is a legal protocol designed to preserve the integrity of evidence—in this case, your blood sample. The process includes a detailed form that logs who has handled the sample, the dates and times it was handled, how it was stored, and when it was transferred. This rigorous documentation aims to rule out any possibility of contamination or tampering.

Why Chain of Custody Matters

The reliability of blood test results in DUI cases is predicated on an unbroken chain of custody. Any missing links or inconsistencies can be grounds for challenging the admissibility of the test results in court. This makes the chain of custody crucial in maintaining the integrity of the evidence against you. It can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

Common Issues in Chain of Custody

Various issues can arise in maintaining an airtight chain of custody. These include:

  1. Improper Labeling: If the sample is not labeled correctly with your identification details, it can be dismissed.
  2. Unauthorized Handlers: Only authorized personnel should handle your sample. Any breach may void the results.
  3. Storage Errors: Improper storage conditions can compromise the sample, affecting the accuracy of the results.
  4. Time Lapses: Unaccounted time lapses in the documentation can create doubt about the sample’s integrity.
  5. Transfer and Transportation: Any errors or lapses during the sample’s transfer to the lab can be grounds for a legal challenge.

Automatic License Suspension 

In South Carolina, being charged with a DUI can trigger an automatic license suspension, leaving many drivers feeling lost and helpless. The suspension is immediate and can occur even before you’ve had your day in court, affecting your daily life in multiple ways. In this guide, Thompson & Hiller elaborate on what the automatic license suspension process entails and how retaining experienced legal counsel can guide you through this challenging period.

What is Automatic License Suspension?

Automatic license suspension refers to the immediate revocation of your driving privileges following a DUI arrest or charge. In South Carolina, your license may be automatically suspended if you fail a breathalyzer or other chemical test, or if you refuse to take such tests when requested by law enforcement. The suspension can last from six months to several years, depending on prior offenses and the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

Steps Involved in Automatic License Suspension

The process typically unfolds as follows:

  1. Arrest and Breathalyzer Test: When you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI, a law enforcement officer may administer a breathalyzer or other chemical tests.
  2. License Seizure: If you fail or refuse the test, your driver’s license is confiscated immediately.
  3. Temporary License: You may be issued a temporary paper license that’s valid for a limited time.
  4. Administrative Hearing: You have the right to request an administrative hearing to challenge the suspension, but you must act fast as there is a time limit for filing the request.

How Can Thompson & Hiller Assist You?

  1. Legal Representation: First and foremost, Thompson & Hiller will provide savvy legal representation to challenge the automatic suspension during administrative hearings.
  2. Filing Appeals: Our attorneys will assist in promptly filing any necessary appeals or motions to preserve your driving privileges.
  3. Negotiating Alternatives: In some cases, we can negotiate for a restricted license that allows for essential driving, such as for work or medical appointments.
  4. Comprehensive Defense: Beyond the license suspension, Thompson & Hiller will build a strong defense against the DUI charges, which could lead to the reinstatement of your license.

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