Last Friday I attended the DWI Innocence Project at the Belo Mansion downtown. It was good to see some old friends, and make some new ones. Blood topics were hot this year with more agencies choosing GITMO style forced blood draws over actual DWI investigation.
Side Note- If DWI suspects are so obviously intoxicated, why are blood draws necessary?
Gas Chromotography for Dummies
Dr. Gary Wimbish did a good job explaining how they figure out how much hooch is in your blood. Gas chromatogarphy (GC) is the process by which a BAC is computed from your B.
To summarize- It’s complicated. Complicated science has a way of being glossed over by law enforcement. Actually investing a result gets in the way of convicting DWI suspects.
As an ADA when I received a DWI case in intake the breath score was the first thing I checked. I didn’t have enough information (or time) to rigorously investigate the result. I wasn’t taught enough about the machine to look for errors. I only learned to critically examine the machine as a defense lawyer.
I never attended any blood seminars by TDCAA. If tradition holds prosecutors will be taught how to steal blood, not how to investigate individual blood results for accuracy. Prosecutors have a lot of DWI cases and are under pressure to convict for their promotions. What would an ADA gain by spending hours investigating one blood test result? You don’t become a chief prosecutor by dismissing DWI blood cases.
Unlike the fake quack science of say, field sobriety testing, blood lab work requires precision and expertise. Any error can invalidate the results. The problem for defendants is that challenging blood work is prohibitively expensive. It’s not an area that defense lawyers can easily tackle without expert assistance.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of defendants can not afford the experts needed to investigate or challenge blood results. The State has an on call prosecutor friendly expert ready to help convict DWI suspects. A comparable expert is going to cost a defendant at least a thousand dollars.
Most defendants gather every available nickel to afford a competent lawyer they trust. There is rarely any money left for experts. What kind of justice system provides a professional advocate expert to only one side? If we are going to allow forced blood evidence then we need to start appointing defense blood experts.