Troy MI License Restoration Blog

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Avoiding Contamination: Understanding Chain of Custody Concerns in a DUI Case

I was recently charged with a DUI in Flint, Michigan. However, I have concerns over how my blood sample was handled. Could this contribute to my defense? 

Under Michigan law, laboratory technicians are required to carefully handle and document all specimens from the moment of collection until the final day of trial (and often for a period of time thereafter as well). This concept, which is known as “chain of custody,” often comes into play with regard to defendants charged with driving under the influence, particularly in light of the often-shoddy attempts by law enforcement and forensic examiners to cover up deviations from proper chain of custody protocol. Accordingly, any act of misconduct or omission by a laboratory responsible with handling your post-arrest blood sample could result in a suppression of that evidence – and possibly a total dismissal of the charge.

Chain of custody rules are primarily concerned with the purity and reliability of the evidence, which will be ultimately used against the defendant and could result in loss of liberty. As such, judges will immediately disallow the introduction of any biologic evidence against a defendant if that evidence is tainted, altered, or degraded in any way. Consequently, the law requires that all transfers of the evidence – even within the same lab – are properly documented and identify where the evidence came from, who handled it, and where it is currently located. 

In the context of post-DUI arrest blood sampling, blood serum can become quickly degraded if not properly handled. Moreover, the prosecution must lay a sufficient foundation to show that a reputed individual handled the sample, including: 
* Identification and qualifications of individual responsible for taking the blood draw
* Explanation of the time period between the arrest and the subsequent blood sample
* Proof that proper instrumentation was used, and that all instruments were sterile
* Proof that the sample was properly labeled and stored
* Identification of the individuals responsible for supervising the sample in storage

If any of these elements are missing, your Michigan criminal law attorney may be able to successfully motion for a suppression of the blood alcohol content results, which could work to eliminate your exposure to conviction depending on the facts surrounding your arrest. 

If you were recently arrested for a DUI in Michigan, contact Attorney Martin T. Lievois right away by calling (810)250-4550 in Genesee County or (248)419-1566 in Oakland.

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