In order to aggressively defend your Pinellas county DUI Manslaughter charge, it is important that we look to the areas of pharmacology and toxicology. We will want to carefully examine the blood evidence that was collected and analyzed in your case. If statutory quality assurance procedures were not followed and proper calibration tests were not conducted, it could cause your blood test results to be inadmissible as evidence.
Consider These Preliminary Issues:
- Did the nurse, paramedic or Phlebotomist clean their hands with an anti-bacterial soap or did they use an alcohol based hand sanitizer before palpitating the vein in your arm in preparation for your blood draw? If they used an alcohol based hand sanitizer, then they would be transferring alcohol directly to the injection site.
- During the collection of your blood sample did the nurse, paramedic or Phlebotomist use a “betadine swab” or an “alcohol swab” to clean your skin before drawing your blood? If they used an alcohol swab, this could compromise the injection site and could also cause an unfairly inflated blood alcohol test result.
Multiple Blood Testing May Result in Multiple Results
1. There is a “hospital blood draw” which is taken for medical treatment purposes and tested by hospital technologists using automated clinical analyzers.
2. There is also a blood draw taken at the direction of law enforcement, which is permitted by Florida law in cases where an accident results in serious bodily injury or death. See: Florida Statute Section 316.1933(1)(a) This “legal blood” will be tested at either the Pinellas County Medical Examiner’s Office Forensic Science Center or by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s lab.
3. Lastly, we can secure an independent blood alcohol analysis from a commercial laboratory using Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry
Serum vs. Whole Blood Testing
The “hospital” blood test is performed on blood “serum” samples. On the other hand, testing of the blood secured by law enforcement and any “independent” testing is performed on “whole blood.” The science of Hematology requires that a proper mathematical formula be applied when comparing these two distinct types of samples
Because of variability in the conversion, and potential inter-laboratory differences, we can sometimes end up with three different blood test results that may conflict with one another. Blood alcohol results that differ can often raise questions as to the reliability of the testing procedures. In turn, this can create evidentiary proof problems for the prosecutor in meeting his burden to show that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Questions That Need to be Asked
- Was EDTA or a Heparin powder anticoagulant inside the blood collection tube?
- Was the blood collection test tube properly labeled or improperly “shaken?”
- If the blood collection tube was not inverted several times during the process of mixing the blood with the anti-coagulant, it could result in fermentation and produce an artificially enhanced blood alcohol level.
- Was the blood refrigerated during transportation and analyzed by a lab within the prescribed period of time after collection of the sample?
- If blood was drawn in connection with your medical treatment at a hospital, did the hospital have your informed consent?
- Did the State Attorney’s Office lawfully send you notice pursuant to Florida Statute Section 395.3025(4)(d) of their intent to seek a subpoena for the purpose of securing your hospital blood test results?
- Will the prosecutor be able to prevail at a Daubert hearing? At such a hearing, the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office would have to prove to the judge that the blood testing was conducted in a manner that was consistent with reliable scientific principles. If they could not, the judge is required to disallow any and all testimony related to your blood test results.
How a Toxicologist Can Help
After examining these threshold issues, it will be important for us to utilize the services of an expert ”Toxiciologist.” This expert can tell us whether you drank enough alcohol to reach the blood alcohol level the prosecutor intends to introduce in court.
Sometimes, our clients consume alcohol just prior to the accident. The Toxicologist can calculate a “retrograde extrapolation” of your blood alcohol results to determine if you have a “rising blood alcohol defense.” In other words, our expert will determine what your blood alcohol level was at the time of driving” and not at the time the blood was drawn.
How We Can Help
As might be expected, there are harsh criminal sentencing penalties associated with a Florida DUI Manslaughter conviction. This can be particularly disturbing to someone facing a prosecution for this offense, since it was never a crime they “intended” to commit. See: DUI Manslaughter... an Unintended Crime in Florida. If you are facing a Pinellas DUI Manslaughter charge, you need a team of lawyers who understand the complexities associated with blood analysis. Whether the focus is on achieving success in the courtroom or negotiating an acceptable plea bargain, the high stakes nature of these cases makes it critical that you secure the services of a law firm for whom you have the highest level of trust and confidence.
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