One of the most critical pieces of evidence in any DUI case is the chemical specimen taken from the suspect. Whether that specimen is a blood sample, a breath sample, or a urine sample, Colorado has strict rules regulating the time, place, and manner in which such specimens are collected and tested. These rules are not always followed, as shown by the case of a toxicology lab accused of providing biased test results only two years ago. Below is a short summary of the requirements governing chemical analysis of these specimens.
Certification of the Facility
First, labs that perform chemical analysis of biological specimens must comply with rigorous technical and scientific requirements in order to be certified by the state. This means that all collection and analytical equipment must conform to the state’s requirements, and that the facilities must comply with standards of medical and scientific practice. Facilities that fail to comply with the regulations and standards will lose their certification.
Certification of the Person Performing the Test
Both the person collecting the sample and the person performing the analysis must be certified by the state as well. The certification required will vary depending on the type of sample collected and the type of machinery used to perform the analysis. In the case of blood specimens, the person collecting the sample must be either a doctor, nurse, paramedic, or other person whose employment requires them to routinely extract blood by venipuncture.
Urine specimens must be collected in the presence of collection personnel who is able to authenticate the sample and must be preserved and stored according to specific requirements. As with blood, proper storage, prompt testing, and clear chain of custody are imperative and failure to follow procedures gives a good defense attorney and expert witnesses a significant basis for casting doubt on the evidence.
Procedural Requirements for Collection and Analysis
Blood specimens must be collected in the presence of the arresting officer, using alcohol free sanitation swabs, placed in two separate vials (for independent testing of the second sample), labeled accurately, adequately preserved, stored at specific temperatures, and tested within a reasonable period of time. Additionally, the chain of custody of the sample must be clear and unbroken to prevent mishandling. If any irregularities occur throughout this process, the test results may be subjected to criticism at trial by a defense attorney.
Contact a Denver DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, contact the attorneys at Tiftickjian Law Firm today. Just because the government has a numerical blood alcohol content result from your blood sample doesn’t necessarily mean that it is accurate or unimpeachable. Our attorneys and their experts know how to hold the state accountable for following correct procedures in chemical testing of blood by casting doubt on results obtained through improper procedures.