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Blood Test Results in Michigan Can Sometimes be Unreliable

Sep 1st, 2016 DUI Defense Blood Testing

A blood test result in a drunk driving case is only worth the paper it is printed on, and just because the report says you were drunk doesn’t necessarily make it so!

In Michigan all blood test results arise out of the Forensic Laboratories run by the State Police.  The majority of blood samples are tested in the Forensic lab in Lansing Michigan.  Do they use good protocols and methods, and overall do good science in this lab?  Specifically, and are their laboratory reports, such as blood test results, reliable?

Janine Arvizu is a PhD chemist and certified quality forensic laboratory auditor who spoke recently at the 2013 OACDL Advanced DUI Academy.  At the right of this post is a video to a small portion of her lecture.

In her lecture Dr. Arvizu talked about how insulated the community of forensic science is and how they really don’t like any independent oversight or inspection.  In this context “independent” means from people outside the forensic science community.  Because of this it is criminal defense attorneys who must, through the defense of their client’s cases, provide this oversight.

Also, Dr. Arvizu quoted Honorable Harry Edwards, who was the co-chair of the committee involved in researching the reliability of forensic science.  This is the research that led to the publication of Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward.

Judge Edward indicated that[i]:

I and many of my colleagues assumed that the forensic disciplines were based on solid scientific methodology, were valid and reliable. I don’t think that we assumed that there was anything seriously amiss.

We assumed there might be mistakes, but I don’t think that we had been forewarned in any way that there were the serious problems that the committee uncovered. …

Essentially, what he and Dr. Arvizu are saying is “never trust a forensic report at face value, ever.”

What does this all mean for blood test results in Michigan DUI cases?  Well, it means to never accept the value reported without looking further to determine if the result is what it professes to be.

Specifically, just because a blood test result from the state laboratory in Michigan says you are over the legal limit this does not mean it is over the legal limit.  It could be that the test is wrong, and it is even possible that it is way wrong.

If you have been arrested in Michigan for DUI and have a blood test, then make sure you have your case reviewed by a lawyer with expertise in blood testing.  Otherwise, it is possible for you to plead or be found guilty when in fact you’ve committed no crime.  Don’t forget, it is still lawful in Michigan to drink and drive.