There are always two sides to a New Jersey DWI — the defense and the prosecution. The prosecution has the burden of proof in these cases and in addition to field sobriety tests, officer observations, confessions and Breathalyzer tests, a blood test is usually the most powerful piece of evidence they will have.
The most technical test the police will administer in a DWI investigation, DWI blood tests require special training on the part of the lab technician. Unfortunately, DWI breath testing was something you agreed to in exchange for driving on New Jersey’s roads. Refusal to submit to a breath test does carry its own set of consequences independent of any DWI charge. If convicted of a DWI, potential punishments include jail time, fines, community service, probation, increased insurance premiums and loss of driving privileges.
N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) defines a New Jersey DWI, with penalties varying depending on the nature of the DWI and whether there have been other DWI convictions in the past. Many clients I see are under the mistaken impression that once the prosecution has charged you with a DWI partially based on blood evidence, the case is a done deal. This could not be further from the truth. I have reduced and eliminated New Jersey DWI charges based on questioning the accuracy of the blood tests. There are two main concerns when it comes to the accuracy and reliability of blood test evidence:
- Blood drawing technique: New Jersey requires extensive training on the part of the lab technician before he or she can begin drawing blood. In addition to questioning whether a lab technician has proper training, a good defense will investigate the machines used and techniques of the administrator. Human error happens all the time.
- Blood sample storage: Samples sitting around for too long before being analyzed can lead to false results; so can improper storage.
- Blood sample chain of custody: Who drew your blood? Who provided the blood test kit? Was it expired? And where are all the people who handled your blood along the way? Guess what? They all need to come to court to testify against you.
- Blood sample search warrant: In McNeely v. Missouri, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the fact that blood alcohol content (BAC) levels dissipate after drinking has ended is not an exigency that waives the need for a search warrant to collect one’s blood sample in a DWI matter.
- Blood test kit: Was it expired? Who provided it? What was your arm scrubbed with prior to blood collection? Was the serum tested? All of these issues can affect the result.
Those are just five examples of defenses that can be asserted when the prosecution presents blood tests as their main DWI case against you. If the blood evidence is proven to be unreliable, there is little else it will be able to present to the judge in furtherance of the DWI charge against you. Working with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI attorney can help eliminate or reduce the charges against you.
If you have recently been charged with a DWI, do not accept the charges against you without putting up a fight. I have over 25 years of experience and know all the relevant arguments and defense to make in your case. Give me a call today to discuss the details of your case — your first consultation is always free. I am here to answer any questions you may have about your case and the New Jersey DWI process in general. I look forward to speaking with you!