The Orange County Crime Lab error has led to some inaccurate alcohol blood level test results that could affect hundreds of DUI cases.
The Orange County Crime Lab produced inaccurate blood alcohol test results in 2,200 driving-under-the-influence cases filed by prosecutors this year.
Prosecutors in recent days sent letters to people charged with driving under the influence, including 900 whose cases resulted in convictions. The letters advised them that their cases were among those with miscalculations.
Crime lab officials said the “human error” occurred over nearly five months and led to mistakes in the forensic examination of blood alcohol content. But they insist the miscalculations were so few that they affect only about 200 cases. As few as 20 people could see their blood alcohol test levels drop below 0.08%, California’s legal definition of DUI impairment.
However, flaws with the lab’s basic testing probably will affect many more cases because sentence enhancements and negotiations are often based on how far over the legal limit a motorist was determined to be.
Orange County Crime Lab Director Bruce Houlihan said the facility, which serves the entire county, discovered flaws in its analysis Oct. 10 while conducting an audit. In reality, a small human error led to an instrument to be wrongly calibrated. The lab tests each blood sample twice using two machines and then averages the results. The error affected one of the machines beginning May 29. The machine uses five calibrator data points for levels of alcohol in the blood; one was entered incorrectly. As a result, the machine was off by 0.003 percentage points.
About 200 cases will have the blood alcohol average change by 0.01 points. Twenty people will have their blood-alcohol content dropped from 0.08% to 0.07%, below the DUI legal limit.
However, Farrah Emami, a District Attorney spokeswoman, said that though the changes may affect some cases, drops in blood alcohol content below the legal limit do not guarantee that charges will be dropped.
If you or a loved one believe that you may be a victim of the miscalculation in your blood alcohol level by Orange County Crime Labs, it is important to contact an experienced and dedicated criminal attorney at Don Ho Law today to fight your conviction. Our goal at Don Ho Law is to provide an aggressive and comprehensive defense for those accused of a crime throughout Southern California. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact Don Ho Law today.