What You Need to Know About Blood Testing in OWI Cases
When someone is charged with OWI, DUI, or any other type of drug or alcohol-related driving charge and there is blood test evidence, few lawyers have the expertise to determine if the result can be credibly challenged in court.
The vast majority of criminal defense lawyers and OWI defense attorneys routinely accept the scientific reliability of a laboratory blood test report from the Michigan State Police crime lab. To be an effective advocate, an attorney must take a closer look at the drug analysis. Blood testing and analysis is a form of science called “forensic science.” The problem with forensic science and its political connection to law enforcement is that it often ignores the most basic scientific principles, such as the use of blind studies, for example. Errors in laboratory testing are routinely ignored, and results are often extrapolated from data and not proven to be true.
Metrology and Analytic Chemistry’s Connection to OWI Defense
Metrology is the study of scientific measurement. The MSP lab’s report is a statement regarding the scientific measurement of the amount of alcohol per milliliter in a blood sample. Surprisingly, many scientists with MSP know little to nothing about metrology even though they routinely give expert opinions on the issue. Metrology is concerned with the concepts of the validity of the process, the accuracy of findings, the mathematics used in calibration, and the calculation of uncertain measurements.
Analytic chemistry is the science of using techniques and methods to separate, identify, measure, and qualify matter. Instrumental analysis is a part of analytical chemistry. This type of analysis focuses on the use of technology to conduct the separation, identification, and quantification of unknown substances. A highly experienced and skilled DUI defense attorney will not only look to the technique used to analyze the blood but also the method used, which are two distinct and equally important factors. A method is the procedure in which the testing is done, and the technique is how the method is used. Both the technique and the method must be supported by valid science.
The Process of Blood Testing
There are three basic parts of the blood testing and analysis process: separation, identification, and measurement. The Michigan State Police crime lab used chromatography for separation. Chromatography techniques can be gas or liquid. The type of chromatography used by MSP to determine the level of alcohol in a blood sample is called headspace gas chromatography. Identification is the process of recognizing what substances are detected in the analysis. Measurement is the process of identifying an unknown thing, a spectrogram in the case of blood analysis, comparing it to known data measurements to determine the type of substances identified. This process would be similar to seeing a picture of an individual and then trying to find that person in a catalog of images of identified subjects.
Defenses to Blood Test Results in OWI Cases
The three basic scientific avenues of defense in OWI blood test cases are attacking the sample integrity, metrology used, and the testing instrument’s reliability. Any one of these three areas can be impacted by human error, equipment error, or a combination of both. Effective and thorough defense in these cases requires obtaining and reviewing all of the necessary laboratory records, the calibrations, standards, controls, and the results of all of the analyses done in the same analytic run. Additionally, the defense lawyer may decide it is necessary to get documentation regarding maintenance of the equipment and calibration records for subsidiary equipment such as scales, pipettes, etc.
A jury in an OWI case must be reminded that there was a time in history when it was generally accepted that a person could be determined to be a witch if that person, while bound, would float or sink in water. An innocent person would sink, and a witch would float. At that time, this test was considered highly credible and authoritative. The science today is only as reliable as our beliefs and is subject to imminently becoming outdated through future advances in technology and science.
Attorneys for OWI Defense in Michigan
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is highly skilled and knowledgeable in defending OWI cases using facts, the law, the constitution, medicine, and science in formulating defenses. Any weakness in the government’s case is a strength in the defendant’s case. We leave no stone unturned in defending a client and advocating for the best possible outcome. If it is possible to get a charge dismissed or reduced, we will do what is necessary to win the case.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.