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Hospital Blood Tests


The standard procedure in DUI cases where a blood test is performed, involves the use of a law enforcement blood kit. A nurse will use this kit at the hospital or jail and the blood vial is then turned over to the arresting officer. The analysis of the sample is then performed by the crime lab following the requirements of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations.

However, sometimes it is not possible to follow the above procedure. When a DUI suspect is taken to hospital with serious injuries, the medical staff will take a sample of blood for medical reasons and the hospital will perform a blood alcohol test. It is often not possible for a law enforcement officer to secure a blood sample using a law enforcement kit for the crime lab to test.

Great care should be taken in defending a DUI prosecution based on the results of a blood alcohol analysis performed in a hospital. Firstly, less care is taken by hospital staff in properly labeling a sample and ensuring a documented chain of custody. In addition, the method of analysis in hospitals is different to the crime lab. Hospitals normally analyze serum and not whole blood. The result is that the reported blood alcohol level is likely to be about 30% higher than the level would have been if the crime lab had analyzed whole blood. When serum is analyzed, particulate matter in the sample is spun out of the sample before analysis. Therefore, the amount of alcohol in the sample is present in a lower volume of blood.

In addition, the code of regulations on blood alcohol analysis require that sufficient blood be taken for duplicate analysis for quality control purposes and that sufficient blood be taken for later independant analysis. This may not take place in a hospital environment.

If you are facing DUI charges following an accident and you believe that the blood alcohol results in your case are based on a hospital analysis, you should consult with a DUI defense lawyer for advice and representation. Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers Gold & Witham have many years of experience in defending DUI cases based on the results of blood tests. They may be reached for a free consultation at 562 938 7771.