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A Blood Test. A DUI Arrest. It Still May Turn Out for the Best.

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When you’ve been arrested for DUI or DUAC, it’s easy to feel powerless. Officers always seem right and confident. It’s even worse when the officer tells you the case is based on a blood test from the hospital—now it seems they have medical experts and your own blood on their side.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s that easy. South Carolina DUI law actually works hard to protect folks like you against false results. Part of that means forcing the officer to prove the reliability of the blood test. The law just doesn’t take his word for it, either.

The preferred method is obeying regulations set by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), with the blood being tested at the SLED lab in Columbia. Here’s the basics of what the law and SLED regulations say about legal blood tests.

If You Are Arrested Before Blood Is Drawn

If you’re under arrest before blood is taken, the law is clear: the officer must give you certain rights in writing, informing you of the right to refuse the test. Note, though, that if you’re charged with felony DUI, you have no right to refuse.

The blood must be drawn according to SLED regulations. It should be tested at the SLED lab in Columbia, not the hospital. The officer’s failure to follow the law can result in having the blood test result thrown out of evidence.

If You Are Arrested After Blood Is Drawn

If you’re arrested after blood is drawn, the officer may still be required to follow SLED methods. And if not, he’s still got an uphill climb to get the result in evidence. Here are primary reasons:

  • Some hospital blood test results actually state they’re not to be used for legal purposes. There’s a good reason: hospital blood is tested in emergency situations, where a patient’s life may be on the line. Trauma doctors don’t have time to observe legal protections, like making sure the blood alcohol level is totally accurate. Trauma doctors need speed; the criminal justice system demands accuracy. In South Carolina, accuracy comes from following SLED regulations, with the blood tested at the SLED lab.
  • To get the result into evidence, the officer has to prove “chain of custody.” This could involve a slew of witnesses involved in the handling and testing of the blood, to prove it wasn’t tampered with. It complicates the trial, and an experienced DUI defense lawyer can use it to keep the result out of evidence.
  • The officer may need a warrant to get the blood. This is a highly complex question, based on the specific facts of your case. If the blood was drawn without a warrant, then it may be possible to get the test results thrown out. SLED Requirements

What the SLED Regs Say

The SLED regulations contain important protections for you. First, they recommend cleaning the needle site with a non-alcohol prep. Makes sense, right? That way no other alcohol can artificially increase the result.

The regulations also give specific direction to prevent contamination of the sample and label it properly, to assure the sample came from you, showing the time and date of the sample.

The sample must be sent for testing to the state crime laboratory at SLED in Columbia.

You Can’t Win A Blood Case Alone

The best way to make a DUI blood case easy for the officer is to show up for trial alone. While the blood case is harder than the officer wants you to think, it’s just as hard for you to contest. The laws are complex, and winning often requires proving the violations destroyed the accuracy or reliability of the results. That’s why you need a seasoned DUI/DUAC defense attorney to develop the arguments to keep the blood test out and help win your case.

If you’ve been hit with a DUI arrest based on a blood test, don’t go down without a well-planned fight. And remember: this is only one part of your case. For questions about other parts, you should check out our free book about these cases. Then send us an email or call us at (888) 230-1841 or (864) 582-0416 to set up a meeting so we can start planning your defense.

 

Rob Usry
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Rob is a South Carolina personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.
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