It is a police officer’s job to gather evidence when he suspects that a driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many times, police officers begin gathering evidence by administering a breathalyzer test. However, sometimes law enforcement officials decide that a breathalyzer isn’t enough and require drivers to submit to blood tests.
If a blood test and other evidence show that you were driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or under the influence of drugs, then you could face jail time, fines, a permanent criminal record, and other harsh penalties. But law enforcement evidence isn’t always accurate or persuasive, and it won’t always be enough to convict you in Fairfax County or elsewhere in Virginia.
When a Police Officer May Require a Blood Test
Blood tests are often required by the police if:
- The police suspect that you are under the influence of drugs. Breathalyzer tests only test for the presence of alcohol and cannot detect drugs. A blood test can check for substances such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and other drugs.
- You are unable to take a breathalyzer test. Certain physical conditions, such as COPD and asthma, may interfere with your ability to blow into a breathalyzer device.
According to Virginia law § 18.2-268.2, anyone who drives a motor vehicle on a Virginia highway provides implied consent for his or her blood to be taken for a chemical test to determine if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The test must be performed within three hours of the alleged offense. Refusal of a blood or breath test after an arrest for suspected DUI can subject you to civil penalties and a license suspension for a first offense, and a misdemeanor conviction for subsequent refusals.
Blood Tests Aren’t Always Reliable
Generally, blood tests are more reliable than breathalyzer test results. However, even blood tests must be carefully reviewed for accuracy and to determine how relevant they are to the specific case.
After a blood test, you should be aware of the following potential problems that could discredit the evidence against you. A blood test may provide incorrect results if, for example, there is a(n):
- Unqualified person performing the test. The person drawing your blood and analyzing the results should be properly trained.
- Labeling error. Your blood draw should be appropriately marked with your name. Without identifying information, the blood could be mixed up with someone else’s blood.
- Storage error. After a certain amount of time, blood should be refrigerated so that it does not ferment. Fermentation occurs more quickly in the heat, so the time for refrigeration is shorter in the summer. Fermentation can cause a falsely high blood alcohol content reading.
- Testing error. A mistake during testing could include having dirty test equipment, failing to calibrate testing equipment, or failing to follow blood test procedures.
- Chain of custody issue. To ensure that the test results are accurate, it is essential to know who had control over the blood at every point from when the blood is taken from you until the blood test results are determined and reported.
An experienced Fairfax DUI defense lawyer will consider all of these possibilities and thoroughly analyze all of the evidence against you.
Start Your DUI Defense Today
Our experienced Fairfax DUI attorneys will consider how the blood test was conducted, how your blood was handled after it was drawn, and other potential defenses in your DUI case. We will thoroughly investigate all aspects of your arrest and all evidence against you, including, but not limited to, potential problems with your blood test results, and we will aggressively fight to protect your legal rights.
The government is preparing its case against you. Don’t let another day go by without preparing your defense. It is your future that is at stake, and the potential penalties for a Virginia DUI conviction are significant. Call us, or complete our online contact form, to schedule your free legal consultation as soon as possible.