Maryland DUI Blood Tests
Blood testing is typically performed after a suspect is arrested and is at the police station, most often within hours of the arrest. If the testing shows a BAC of 0.08 or above, these results can be difficult to challenge if nothing has occurred prior to testing regarding the violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. If there were any rights violations, however, they can be used to the defendant’s advantage in court, and the tests could actually be deemed inadmissible.
Below, we provide some basic information about blood testing in the State of Maryland, but a Maryland DUI attorney in your local area can explain how this information may apply to your case. Call our firm today for a free consultation.
Maryland has two separate chemical tests that can accurately measure a suspect’s BAC. The first approved test is a breath chemical test analyzed by the Intoxilyzer or the Intoximeter. Here is more information on the DUI alcohol breath tests and procedures in Maryland.
Most states – including Maryland – have “implied consent” laws. When you drive a car on a public roadway, it is assumed that you have given consent to having a chemical test performed if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Even though drivers technically have the right to refuse such a test, this decision can lead to a mandatory suspension of driving privileges.
Blood Testing Procedure
As with field sobriety testing, arresting officers must follow certain specific legal guidelines regarding blood testing. First, in order to request a test, the officer must have a reasonable belief that the driver is impaired by alcohol or some other intoxicant. The officer must then inform the driver of their right not to submit to chemical testing; and third, must explain the penalties the suspect faces for that refusal – including license revocation and a possible fine for refusing the test.
Once all of this has been explained, the officer will ask the driver to sign an “implied consent form,” attesting to the fact that the driver understands his or her rights and responsibilities regarding the test.
As the breath test is the preferred method of chemical testing for many police departments, blood tests are only utilized under special circumstances. They may include a driver not having sufficient lung capacity to generate a large enough sample for the breathalyzer to generate a reliable reading, if the driver has sustained an injury that could impact the test results, or is being treated at a hospital – in which case, the police can request that a blood sample be drawn (usually after an accident).
Administering a Maryland Blood Test
According to Maryland law, only a licensed physician or nurse – acting at the specific request of a police officer – is permitted to draw blood in DUI cases. Two samples will be drawn. At the suspect’s request, a third sample may be drawn for independent testing. If the suspect is unconscious or otherwise incapable of making the request, the third sample will be drawn to avoid a violation of court procedure of denying the defendant access to a third sample, which could be the basis for a dismissal. The requesting police officer will then take the blood samples, seal the vials into a blood “kit,” and transport the package to a government-approved forensic laboratory for testing.
Challenging Blood Tests as Evidence
There are many aspects of blood tests that an experienced attorney can successfully challenge to get the evidence of the test results suppressed at trial. For example, if the police do not refrigerate the blood within 24 hours of withdrawal, the natural fermentation process may significantly increase the alcohol level in the samples, thus rendering them inadmissible. Additionally, if the anticoagulant or preservative in the vial are not properly mixed to a specific ratio, this could affect the blood alcohol level. Too much anticoagulant and preservative will draw out more alcohol in the vapor and produce distorted test results.
Other challenges to this prosecution evidence involve chain-of-custody issues, faulty or expired testing equipment, expired lab employee certifications, whether IV fluids were given before the blood was drawn, or whether the laboratory tested whole blood or plasma. Having an experienced attorney who understands every aspect of blood tests – the chemical and laboratory processes, the organic chemical properties of hematology, and the legal requirements for withdrawing and analyzing blood samples – is paramount in questioning what is considered to be the ironclad evidence that DUI blood testing can produce.
Contact a Maryland DUI Attorney Today
It is imperative that you contact a DUI attorney if faced with the possibility or have already taken a blood, or breath test. An experienced DUI attorney can analyze the tests for any flaws and provide the best defense against a conviction for DUI.