FAQ - Blood Testing
Q: Why are blood tests used by law enforcement agencies?
A: Law enforcement officers use blood tests to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or drug concentration level, which is the level of alcohol or drugs present in an individual's blood. If an officer suspects an individual’s drug or alcohol level is above the legal limit, the officer can administer a blood test. In Ohio, a driver may be charged for DUI / OVI if the driver’s ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs, and a driver may also be charged for DUI / OVI if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration or drug concentration over a prohibited amount. The charge for blood test results at or above .080 (but under .170) is DUI / OVI “per se, low test”. The charge for breath test results at or above .170 is DUI / OVI “per se, high test”. There are also “per se” limits for some drugs, and the “per se” offenses have different penalties.
Q: What are the different types of blood test used by law enforcement agencies?
A: There are two types of blood tests for DUI / OVI cases, Vehicular Homicide cases, and Vehicular Assault cases in Columbus and central Ohio: (1) blood tests administered by a crime laboratory such as a law enforcement agency; and (2) blood tests administered by a health care provider such as a hospital. In either instance, blood is drawn by a medical professional. Results are examined by a crime lab or health care provider and may be admissible in court as evidence in a DUI / OVI case, Vehicular Homicide case, or Vehicular Assault case.
Q: Can a blood test be administered without consent in Columbus and central Ohio?
A: Under certain circumstances, individuals arrested for DUI / OVI who refuse to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test, can be forced to provide a blood sample. These circumstances are: (1) a law enforcement officer may obtain a search warrant from a judge authorizing an involuntary blood test; or (2) a law enforcement officer may obtain an involuntary blood sample without a search warrant, if there is a compelling need for the blood test and no time to secure a warrant (exigent circumstances). The exigent circumstances exception likely does not justify a non-consensual blood draw after the United States Supreme Court decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota.
Q: Are there rules officers and health care providers must follow for blood tests?
A: Yes. Ohio has statutes, regulations, and case law regarding the use of blood test results as evidence in court. For crime laboratories, the law provides that a blood test must be drawn within three hours, and the test must be conducted according to methods approved by the Department of Health. The Department of Health has many regulations pertaining to blood tests. These regulations include: (1) the collecting and handling of blood samples; (2) testing techniques; (3) laboratory operations; (4) testing permits; and (5) the maintenance of records. For health care providers, blood tests are not governed by the Department of Health regulations. Instead, expert testimony by a health care professional is required to discuss how the blood test correlates to impaired driving ability.
Q: What can a DUI/OVI attorney do with blood test results?
A A DUI / OVI attorney in Columbus and central Ohio can review all the records regarding a blood test, including the qualifications of individuals who conducted the test. For blood tests administered by a crime lab, the attorney should look at whether the blood was drawn, collected, sealed, labeled, stored, transported, and analyzed in compliance with state regulations and laboratory protocol. For blood tests administered by a health care provider, the attorney should look at whether the blood test was administered using scientific methods that yield accurate results. In either instance, if the attorney finds any inaccuracies or mistakes, the result of the blood test may be inadmissible ("thrown out") and therefore not used as evidence in a DUI / OVI case.
Our practice is focused on DUI / OVI defense, we have experience with blood test cases, and we represent clients that are contesting DUI / OVI charges in Columbus and central Ohio. For more information about us, please see our profile, and for details about our practice, please see the firm overview. You can also see what clients say and review our past case results. We limit the number of cases we accept so we can provide outstanding service to our clients. If you would like to discuss how we can help with your DUI / OVI, EMAIL US or call us at 614-717-1177 to arrange a free consultation.