DUI Evidence | Chemical Testing in California DUI Cases

Chemical Testing in California Drunk Driving Cases

In California, all three chemical tests are used (blood, breath,and urine). Urine testing is used to determine drug levels present in a DUI suspect’s system.  A person arrested for DUI has the choice of whether they will submit to a breath test or a blood test if suspected of impairment by alcohol, or blood or urine if suspected of impairment by drugs.

Independent testing: A DUI suspect is permitted to have an independent test performed at his/her own expense, or have an additional test be performed at his/her own expense.

Breath testing: Both portable breath testing as well as evidentiary breath testing is done in California.  Several different evidentiary breath testing machines are used in California.  Which machine will be used in your case will depend on where you are pulled over for DUI, and which police station you are taken to.  The following machines are used in California:  The BAC DataMaster (Los Angeles County), the Intox EC/IR (Los Angeles), the Draeger Alcotest 7110 (San Bernardino and Riverside County), the Draeger Alcotest 7410 (Orange County), the Intoxilizer 5000 (Long Beach), the Intoxilizer 8000 (San Diego).  All breath testing machines work basically the same way – a suspect will blow into the machine and a reading printout indicating the suspect’s BAC will be provided.  Breath testing is the most commonly used chemical test in DUI cases, but it is also the most unreliable way to measure BAC.  Experienced DUI defense attorneys know how to attack the credibility of the machine’s results.  If you have been arrested for DUI and you provided a breath sample, contact one of our pre-screened DUI defense attorney’s in your area.

Blood testing: Blood testing is the most invasive method of measuring BAC, but it is also the most reliable.  Under California law, blood testing for DUI purposes must be done by a qualified person that is listed in the chemical testing statute ( such as a licensed doctor, nurse, clinical lab scientist or bio analyst, or certified paramedic or phlebotomist).  It is not uncommon for DUI attorneys to find mistakes that have been made during the testing of your blood.  Your attorney should request a vial of the blood sample so that independent testing of it may be performed.

Urine testing: In California, urine testing is done to determine amounts of drugs present in a DUI suspects system.  Urine testing is not as reliable as blood testing, but it is less invasive.  A person suspected of DUI drug impairment has the choice of whether to submit to a blood test or urine test.


Chemical Evidence in California DUI Cases Statutes

23158 – Chemical Test Procedure

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, only a licensed physician and surgeon, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, duly licensed clinical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory bio analyst, a person who has been issued a “certified phlebotomy technician” certificate pursuant to Section 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, unlicensed laboratory personnel regulated pursuant to Sections 1242, 1242.5, and 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, or certified paramedic acting at the request of a peace officer may withdraw blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content therein. This limitation does not apply to the taking of breath specimens. An emergency call for paramedic services takes precedence over a peace officer’s request for a paramedic to withdraw blood for determining its alcoholic content. A certified paramedic shall not withdraw blood for this purpose unless authorized by his or her employer to do so.

(b) The person tested may, at his or her own expense, have a licensed physician and surgeon, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, duly licensed clinical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory bio analyst, person who has been issued a “certified phlebotomy technician” certificate pursuant to Section 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, unlicensed laboratory personnel regulated pursuant to Sections 1242, 1242.5, and 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, or any other person of his or her own choosing administer a test in addition to any test administered at the direction of a peace officer for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in the persons blood at the time alleged as shown by chemical analysis of his or her blood, breath, or urine. The failure or inability to obtain an additional test by a person does not preclude the admissibility in evidence of the test taken at the direction of a peace officer.

(c) Upon the request of the person tested, full information concerning the test taken at the direction of the peace officer shall be made available to the person or the person’s attorney.

(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no licensed physician and surgeon, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, duly licensed clinical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory bio analyst, person who has been issued a “certified phlebotomy technician” certificate pursuant to Section 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, unlicensed laboratory personnel regulated pursuant to Sections 1242, 1242.5, and 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, or certified paramedic, or hospital, laboratory, or clinic employing or utilizing the services of the licensed physician and surgeon, registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, duly licensed clinical laboratory scientist or clinical laboratory bio analyst, person who has been issued a “certified phlebotomy technician” certificate pursuant to Section 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, unlicensed laboratory personnel regulated pursuant to Sections 1242, 1242.5, and 1246 of the Business and Professions Code, or certified paramedic, owning or leasing the premises on which tests are performed, shall incur any civil or criminal liability as a result of the administering of a blood test in a reasonable manner in a hospital, clinical laboratory, medical clinic environment, jail, or law enforcement facility, according to accepted venipuncture practices, without violence by the person administering the test, and when requested in writing by a peace officer to administer the test.

(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who has been issued a “certified phlebotomy technician” certificate pursuant to Section 1246 of the Business and Professions Code and who is authorized by this section to draw blood at the request and in the presence of a peace officer for purposes of determining its alcoholic content, may do so in a jail, law enforcement facility, or medical facility, with general supervision. The “certified phlebotomy technician” shall draw blood following the policies and procedures approved by a physician and surgeon licensed under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code, appropriate to the location where the blood is being drawn and in accordance with state regulations.

(f) The Certified Phlebotomy Technician I or II shall carry a current, valid identification card issued by the State Department of Health Services, attesting to the technicians name, certificate type, and effective dates of certification, when performing blood withdrawals.

(g) As used in this section, “general supervision” means that the supervisor of the technician is licensed under the Business and Professions Code as a physician and surgeon, physician assistant, clinical laboratory bioanalyst, registered nurse, or clinical laboratory scientist, and reviews the competency of the technician before the technician may perform blood withdrawals without direct supervision, and on an annual basis thereafter. The supervisor is also required to review the work of the technician at least once a month to ensure compliance with venipuncture policies, procedures, and regulations. The supervisor, or another person licensed as a physician and surgeon, physician assistant, clinical laboratory bioanalyst, registered nurse, or clinical laboratory scientist, shall be accessible to the location where the technician is working to provide onsite, telephone, or electronic consultation, within 30 minutes when needed.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring the certified phlebotomy technician who is authorized to withdraw blood by this section at the request and in the presence of a peace officer for purposes of determining alcoholic content to be associated with a clinical laboratory or to be directly supervised after competency has been established.

(i) If the test given under Section 23612 is a chemical test of urine, the person tested shall be given such privacy in the taking of the urine specimen as will ensure the accuracy of the specimen and, at the same time, maintain the dignity of the individual involved.

(j) The department, in cooperation with the State Department of Health Services or any other appropriate agency, shall adopt uniform standards for the withdrawal, handling, and preservation of blood samples prior to analysis.

(k) As used in this section, “certified paramedic” does not include any employee of a fire department.

(l) Consent, waiver of liability, or the offering to, acceptance by, or refusal of consent or waiver of liability by the person on whom a test is administered, is not an issue or relevant to the immunity from liability for medical or law enforcement personnel or other facilities designated under subdivision (d).

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