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Forensic evidence may put DUI evidence in doubt


When a person is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, the extent of their intoxication can be determined by any number of testing methods, including a breathalyzer, field sobriety exam, or direct blood sample test. The results of these tests are almost always employed by prosecutors in court seeking a guilty conviction of DUI or DWI charges, and may give rise to additional serious charges, should other complications such as injury or death be involved in the incident.

Not far from New Jersey, however, a drunk driving case involving numerous serious charges, including criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment, may be turned on its head on account of the forensic mishandling of blood test evidence.

Defense counsel in the case has called upon a forensic pathologist who asserts that the blood sample taken from the man following a crash that left one person dead was improperly preserved and stored, causing the blood to ferment and produce a blood-alcohol content level that was erroneously elevated.

The pathologist has called into serious question the consistency of blood sample tests in the wake of a drunk driving crash, pointing to both Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and the New York State Police laboratory as deficient in their handling of evidence-a procedural lapse that make all the difference in the defendant's effort to avoid potential decades of jail time.

A trial for the case has been set for early March, and the man charged has plead not guilty to all allegations. The importance of a defense attorney's insight and litigation capabilities cannot be understated in cases involving serious drunk driving charges. Working an attorney can help open up options that may never have been considered otherwise.

Source: Post Star, "Forensic pathologist aids defense in fatal crash case," Don Lehman, Jan 21, 2013

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