9 Months of Potentially Flawed Blood Alcohol Tests

The manufacturer of blood alcohol testing kits used by Minnesota law enforcement has issued a large recall based on suspicions of flawed tests over a nine-month period.

How Accurate Are Blood Alcohol Tests?

Recently, up to nine months of potentially flawed blood tests collected by Minnesota law enforcement have been recalled. The recall affects all Minnesota blood alcohol testing kits used between August 20, 2018, and the present.

A worldwide medical supplier, Becton, Dickinson, and Company (known as “BD”), supplies the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with blood alcohol testing kits. They recently sent out a notice warning of potentially flawed results in thousands of blood alcohol tests due to an error omitting a necessary preservative in test vials. This important missing preservative is a key factor in determining accurate blood alcohol content (BAC) levels in DUI testing because it prevents alcohol fermentation. Once fermentation occurs, the blood alcohol test is considered flawed and rendered inadmissible in court.  

The recall notice emphasized that once blood is collected in the vials, lab clinicians are not able to determine if vials contained the necessary preservative. As a result, there is no scientifically accurate way to determine an accurate BAC in test subjects. In some cases, BAC tests processed without the preservative have yielded reliable results, but only when test vials are stored at room temperature for no longer than two days.

According to Minnesota DUI attorneys, many innocent people are wrongfully arrested due to faulty field sobriety tests. Minnesota drivers stopped on suspicion of drunk driving will likely be asked by police officers to complete standardized field sobriety tests that include a walk and turn test, a one-leg stand test, and a horizontal gaze test. By law, these three tests are voluntary, however, a breathalyzer test is mandatory. In most cases, blood alcohol testing is done at the police station. However, Minnesota police officers are not required by law to have a warrant to perform a non-consensual blood test if they believe there is probable cause in a drunk driving accident, or a driver is involved in a criminal vehicular homicide incident.

In Minnesota and most other states, blood alcohol testing is common in DUI accidents, however, the accuracy of the test relies on the lab that processes the test results. When blood tests are flawed, it can mean the difference between freedom and prison for a driver who is wrongly convicted.

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.