Truth, Justice...and DUI Politics
Information courtesy of Lawrence Taylor - DUIblog
Let me tell you about one of our DUI cases that ended up on the front pages of the Los Angeles Times last year.
My law firm had a young client, I'll call him "Steve", who had been arrested for drunk driving by the Los Angeles Police Department and a blood sample drawn from his arm. He swore to us that he was innocent, and we believed him. Problem: the blood alcohol content of the sample was .15% -- almost twice the drunk driving limit.
We obtained a portion of the sample from the LAPD crime lab and sent it to a private lab that we use for reanalyzing blood of all our DUI clients. The lab reported the blood alcohol level to be .13% -- lower, but a long way from being under .08%. As we requested, they also tested for preservative and anticoagulent (either fermentation or coagulation can raise the alcohol level in the sample), but everything was in order.
Steve still insisted he was not driving under the influence of alcohol. The only other possibility was a faulty "chain of custody". In other words, LAPD lab got the vial mixed up and tested someone elses blood. Kind of like the work they did in the O.J. Simpson case.
So we had the sample blood-typed to see if it was that of another arrestee. Result: type "O"-- the same as Steve's. But, then, thats the most common type of blood.
We decided to try something different, something that, to our knowledge, had not been done before in any DUI case. We had blood taken from our client and, with a portion of the remaining sample from the LAPD lab, shipped to a laboratory that focused in DNA testing.
A month or so later the report came in: the blood tested by LAPD was conclusively not Steve's.
The prosecutor in the case initially refused to accept these results. But after we proved that the comparison