DUI Blood Tests in Florida
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In Florida DUI cases, it is almost certain that the driver will be submitted to some form of blood alcohol testing. This can be done in the form of breath testing, urine testing, or blood testing. The latter has a reputation for being one of the most accurate forms of testing; however, it is not without fault.
There are several factors that can affect the result of any given test, resulting in skewed or completely faulty results. For this reason, it is extremely important that if you have been arrested for a DUI and been told that you "failed" the blood test that you do not hesitate to consult with an experienced Tampa DUI lawyer. They may be able to help challenge the evidence.
Contact a Tampa DUI Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing a DUI case involving a blood test, you need an attorney on your side you can trust - someone who can go above and beyond to defend your legal rights. For help you can count on, turn to the lawyers at Thomas & Paulk, P.A. today. With over two decades of aggregate lawyer experience, our firm has proven to be high-quality advocates for the rights of our clients.
To learn more, call our Tampa DUI blood test lawyers now at (813) 321-7323. We’re ready to build a defense for your DUI case now.
In Florida, there are strict guidelines as to how blood tests may be performed. These are outlined under Florida Administrative Code Chapter 11D-8. For example, it is explained that before the blood test is given, the technician must cleanse the area with a solution that does not contain any trace of alcohol; this is different from routine blood tests as any alcohol-based cleanser could potentially contaminate the test. It is also specified that whoever takes the sample must be properly trained and/or certified; for example, it could be done by a physician, paramedic, or someone authorized by the hospital. Storing the blood must be done in a glass tube that contains the correct amount of preservatives and anticoagulant to ensure the sample is not contaminated. Immediately following the drawing/storing of the blood, the technician must invert it to properly mix it with the preservatives and anticoagulants within the tube.
The blood sample must then be labeled with the name of the person, the date and time when the sample was taken, and the name of the person who took it. If the sample is going to be analyzed within seven days, it must be refrigerated. Within 30 days of the sample being taken, it is required that it is hand-delivered or mailed for analysis. If mailed, it must be done overnight, priority or an equivalent.
Implied Consent in Florida DUI Cases
The Florida Implied Consent Law under Florida Statutes §316.1932 (2012) explains that any person who is legally allowed to drive in the state has given their consent to submit to any chemical or field test to determine their blood alcohol level. Put simply, if you have a driver's license and are pulled over during a traffic stop, you do not have the right to refuse intoxication testing if the officer has reason to believe that you have been driving under the influence. If you do refuse, it could be considered admissible in the court of law as evidence; should it be done two or more times, it is a first degree misdemeanor.
Despite this implied consent law, specific criteria must be met by a situation for a blood test to be admissible in court. First, the officer must have reasonable cause to believe that a person was driving while intoxicated. Next, the officer must be able to prove that the blood test was necessary instead of other forms of intoxication measurements. When the blood test is administered, it must be done at a medical facility. Finally, officers must still obtain a warrant to conduct blood tests if a person is unconscious, too intoxicated, or otherwise unable to submit to other types of tests.
In summary, a DUI blood test is legal in Florida in the following circumstances:
- Without a warrant if a person consents to the test and if other types of intoxication tests are not possible.
- If the officer has a warrant and the case is a felony DUI
- With a subpoena of hospital records.
Can Officers Obtain Blood Test Warrants for Florida Misdemeanor DUI Cases?
Officers are not able to obtain blood test warrants for misdemeanor DUI cases in Florida. However, there are two exceptions that blood test warrants are possible for misdemeanor cases. Notably, both exceptions are meant to provide a path toward proving a person committed a felony DUI crime. First, a blood test is possible if property was used to commit a crime. Second, a blood test is possible when it’s possible to use it to prove a felony has been committed.
Common Flaws of the Blood Test
Although more accurate than field sobriety, there are still errors that can occur during blood tests that can allow for a defense attorney to attack on your behalf. The first is the possibility that the blood has been somehow contaminated. As explained above, Florida law is specific on washing the draw spot with a cleanser that does not contain any alcohol. What if there was a mix-up? What if something as simple as swabbing your arm with an alcohol-based solution resulted in a faulty reading that showed a BAL way above the legal limit?
Second, your attorney could investigate the possibility of a broken chain of custody. If there was a mix-up with the labeling, delivery or handling of the blood, it could potentially cause your name to go one someone else's vial or for you to be handed the results of someone else's test. Third, if the blood was not properly stored or not properly mixed with the proper preservatives and anticoagulants, it is possible that the blood could become fermented; this could completely throw off the reading of the sample and result in "bad blood."
Drunk driving cases may or many not require a formal trial. We discuss what most can expect in terms of the process and duration of their DUI case.
At Thomas & Paulk, one of our primary focuses is on the defense of DUI charges. In fact, we are recognized throughout the Tampa area as one of the premier DUI defense law firms. Our team is well-versed in this area of the law and has a wide-expanse of experience in helping our clients fight against such charges.
It doesn’t matter if this is your first offense or your third, you can count on our firm to protect your legal rights. Often, our defense starts with recounting with you how the police officer came to stop you in the first place and how he or she came to believe you may be under the influence of alcohol. If the stop was illegal, or the tests were improperly administered, we may be able to argue for the dismissal of that evidence in court, helping your chances of a dropped charge.
If you would like to learn more about how our team can help, contact us today.
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