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Problems with Blood Alcohol Results in Orange County


The Orange County Sheriff's Department has admitted that its crime lab made errors in blood testing in DUI cases this year that may lead to some convictions being overturned.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office is in the process of sending letters to people charged with DUI this year who submitted to a blood test and whose blood alcohol results may have been affected by miscalculations. Crime Lab officials have stated that “human error” led to an instrument used in blood alcohol testing to be wrongly calibrated.

Testing protocol requires two analyses using two different machines and the two results are then averaged for a final blood alcohol result. The error affected one of the machines beginning on May 29th. The machine uses five calibrator data points for levels of alcohol in the blood, and one was entered incorrectly. As a result, the machine was off by 0.003 percentage points.

According to the Crime Lab, because the error was so small, it is anticipated that only about 200 cases will have their blood alcohol average change by 0.01 points. Obviously, this will primarily affect people who had a borderline result of .08% who now may be looking at re-opening their case with the Court and DMV if their actual blood alcohol result should have been .07% which is below the legal limit.

However, courts also make decisions on sentencing and penalties based on a blood alcohol results, and some defendants may have performed greater penalties unfairly if their blood alcohol results at the time of sentencing were just over the enhancement thresholds of .15% or .20%.

If you are facing a DUI with blood test evidence in Orange County, please contact experienced DUI defense lawyers at Gold & Witham for a free case evaluation.