DWI Blood Test Recall in Houston Affecting 1,700 CasesPublished: Aug 23, 2019 in Criminal Defense, DWI
Thousands of drunk and drugged driving cases may get dismissed over a DWI blood test recall affecting a lab that analyzes samples for the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. According to the lab, the nationwide recall concerns 240,000 blood vials, out of which 3,400 are being used in the prosecution of 1,700 Houston DWI (driving while intoxicated) cases. This means that 1,700 drunk or drugged driving defendants may now be in a much better position to win their cases.
A Houston DWI attorney may be able to get your case dismissed after suppressing essential evidence from the prosecution’s case. Blood alcohol content (BAC) evidence is some of the best evidence that prosecutors have at their disposal to show that you were driving in an impaired state. Without the BAC evidence in their case file, the prosecutors may not have enough evidence left to successfully convict you.
Why are Houston Blood Samples Being Recalled?
Becton Dickinson (BD) Labs manufactures testing equipment and provides blood testing services to law enforcement and prosecutors’ offices across the nation. The company believes that it improperly manufactured around 100 vials out of a 240,000 lot. And there’s no way of telling exactly which ones are faulty. The issue specifically has to do with a chemical preservative that keeps the sample’s BAC from changing over time. Some vials may not have contained the preservative, which means that they could not provide an accurate estimate of a suspect’s BAC.
On this, BD CEO and president Dr. Peter Stoul said, “this is a critical problem that will not only require HFSC [Houston Forensic Science Center], HCDAO and HPD to review and disclose information on 1,700 cases dating back to the beginning of the year, it creates a problem for crime labs across the state and the nation since BD is the primary provider of these blood vials.” He continued, “HFSC has an obligation to share this information with all stakeholders to ensure prosecutors, defendants and all others in the justice system have the information needed to move forward.”
How Can a DWI Lawyer Use the Recall a Client’s Favor?
After law enforcement arrests you for impaired driving, the police may take you to a medical facility to obtain a blood sample. This usually happens when they believe that you are under the influence of drugs. But if you are unconscious, resisting, or involved in a serious accident, they may also collect a blood sample. When they suspect that you are drunk, the police will often just give you a breath test before booking you in jail. In either scenario, these BAC samples are some of the prosecutor’s best evidence against you. For this reason, DWI defense lawyers always attempt to get this evidence suppressed from their clients’ cases.
The U.S. Constitution prevents courts from hearing evidence that was obtained in violation of a suspect’s rights. As a result, a criminal defense attorney can achieve the suppression of your BAC samples by demonstrating that the police pulled you over or arrested you in violation of your Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. Any evidence the police obtained as a result of the unlawful arrest or traffic stop, including your BAC sample, may be unusable to the prosecutor.
In addition, your attorney can show that your BAC samples were improperly collected, stored, or analyzed, which violates your Sixth Amendment right to due process. A rights violation could result from a single error at the medical facility that affects only your sample, or a nationwide recall affecting thousands of cases.
Do You Have Questions About the DWI Blood Test Recall? Contact a Houston DWI Lawyer Today
At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we will fight for you to obtain a good case outcome by suppressing the prosecution’s evidence. Attorney Ned Barnett will closely review your case file to determine if the police violated your rights in collecting evidence against you. Without lawfully-obtained evidence that clearly shows that you were driving while intoxicated, the state has slim chances of convicting you. This is why you should not plead guilty to your charges before speaking with an experienced Houston defense lawyer. If you are facing Texas DWI charges, contact us today at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free evaluation about your case.