This installment of case of the month is not about any particular case but concerns all blood alcohol driving under the influence cases.
Recently, the Orange County crime lab disclosed that an error had been discovered in their blood alcohol reporting procedures. Hundreds of defendants were notified this error may affect them. Although the crime lab has indicated there are, in fact, very few people who were under a 0.08 percent because of this error, a more basic question arises. Are people too trusting of the science used to prosecute
As an attorney who has handled many DUI jury trials, I can state categorically that the level of belief most prosecution experts exhibit regarding the science of DUI prosecutions borders on complete certainty.
Some experts may testify it is theoretically possible that an error can be made regarding procedure. However, it generally appears such concessions display the same level of belief exhibited by the average citizen when it comes to the existence of big foot. That is, "Sure, it's possible that it may happen but i have never seen it."
Although it is important for people to believe an expert's opinion, it is also important for people to have a healthy skepticism about anything that is "100% accurate." Whenever human beings are involved in a process, there is bound to be error. If a mistake in crime lab procedures cause a blood alcohol level to drop from a 0.09 percent to a 0.08 percent, that is a 12% error...hardly the type of evidence which should be allowed in a criminal prosecution.
When you add the limitations of retrograde extrapolation (the process of trying to look back to determine what a blood alcohol level was at a previous point in time), the science of DUI prosecutions looks increasingly suspicious.
Contact The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs if you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI. Put his 30 years of experience and knowledge to work for you.