When most people think of alcohol testing in connection with a DUI, they automatically think of the breathalyzer. But under Kentucky law, an officer can also request that a suspected drunk driver take a blood test. In a Lexington blood test, a nurse or other qualified individual will take a sample of the driver’s blood. That blood is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Once the analysis is complete, the laboratory then reaches a conclusion regarding the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of the driver.
Don’t Let a Blood Test Result Scare You
In the minds of some police officers and prosecutors, a blood test is more desirable than a breath test. This is because some of them have the perception that a blood test is nearly-irrefutable proof of the driver’s alcohol concentration. Whereas a breath test can, in some cases, produce an inaccurate result, blood tests (they believe) are completely accurate. As a result, they will try to scare some DUI defendants into simply pleading guilty to the offense.
The truth is that just as the breath test can produce erroneous results if the proper procedures are not followed, so too can a blood test that is improperly performed be unreliable. This is why some courts talk about admitting blood tests only if there are “indicia of reliability” that suggest the test results are reasonably accurate. For this reason, for example, Kentucky only allows certain individuals to draw blood samples. Other regulations and procedures exist dictating how the blood sample is to be stored and packaged, how it is to be shipped to the laboratory, and what methods are acceptable for testing the sample. There can also be legal problems with the blood draw if, for instance, the police handcuff you to a hospital bed and hold pillows over your face while taking the blood sample. If the government or its scientists do not follow lawful procedures, the reliability of the blood test result can and should be questioned.
When Getting a Blood Test is a Good Thing
Suppose you have been pulled over for DUI and the officer has you submit to a breath test. You do not believe you are over the limit and so you confidently take the test. You are shocked when you see that the breath test result is over 0.08. In this circumstance, you may wish to employ a right that all DUI suspects have but few rarely use. In Kentucky, after you have submitted to all of the testing required by the police, you have the right to request an independent blood test be performed. While this test is done at your expense from a medical center or provider agreeing to perform such a test, it can provide important, vindicating evidence if it shows a blood alcohol level at variance with the tests you performed for the police.