Category Archives:Blood alcohol content (BAC)

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OC DUI Cases Could Be Affected by Lab Error

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.

Published by Don Ho LawDon Ho is an experienced criminal defense attorney who serves Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties. 
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NTSB Recommends Lowering Alcohol Limit to .05

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday all 50 states reduce the legal blood alcohol limit for driving from the existing .08 to .05, saying the level is too high and leaves some drivers still impaired even though they are operating legally. The recommendation is part of a package of 10 new suggestions and nine renewed ideas to lower the number of alcohol-related crashes. The board is also calling for more high-visibility enforcement including sobriety checkpoints and to require ignition locks for those who have been convicted or first-time offenses, said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The package of recommendations are designed to work together, but Hersman said she is hoping reducing the legal limit for alcohol consumption will serve as a deterrent to people who may be thinking of drinking while driving. 

Local business owners, lawyers and even law enforcement officials questioned if changing the limit is necessary and could cause other problems. In the United States driving laws are set state by state and currently all 50 states and all of Canada call for an alcohol limit of .08 to drive legally.

Because alcohol affects people in different ways, it is difficult to say exactly how many drinks in what time period it would take to reach an .05 level. According to one website, a 180-pound man who drank three 12-ounce beers in an hour would have a blood alcohol level of .04. A fourth beer would push him over the legal limit at .06. 

“One person can be at one drink in one hour and still be impaired but they are still not intoxicated…but some people with alcohol addiction can build up a tolerance and appear to be not as impaired,” said Baxter Chandler, a licensed social worker and the director of behavioral health at Holyoke Medical Center. 

Chandler said he feels most people are impaired at .08 blood alcohol level and some are not legally impaired at .06 but still are driving dangerously because they are too drunk.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight your charges and reduce your fines. A DUI can be costly, you can lose your license, lose your transportation, and will have to pay hefty fines. Don Ho, an established criminal defense attorney, will fight your charges and/or lower your sentence.

Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Riverside and Orange County. 

Don't Push Your Luck on St. Patrick's Day

Green beer on St. Patrick's Day
Image via Wikipedia
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Saturday this year, there will be no shortage of places to celebrate or sobriety checkpoints throughout Orange County.  While Orange County is known for being extremely strict when it comes to drunk driving, law enforcement agencies usually take it up several notches during holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.  If you drive under the influence this weekend, you may not be able count on that “luck of the Irish” to get you out of the legal hot water in which you may find yourself.
In California, it is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs and or alcohol; and/or driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher.  California Highway Patrol has provided individuals with an easy to read BAC chart that shows how body weight and drinks can alter a person’s BAC levels.    
Here are a few tips that can help keep you safe this weekend and avoid a DUI charge:
  • Designate a sober driver – leave your car keys at home
  • Hail a cab or use public transportation – call one for round trip or leave your vehicle, call a taxi and return the next morning to pick up your vehicle
  • Stay put – spend the night at a friend’s house to avoid driving drunk
  • Walk home – if you live close, walk to and from where you will be drinking; make sure to stay in well-lit areas and travel with a friend for added safety
  • Fix your car – officers must have a reason to pull you over other than just being suspicious of a DUI; ensure car and lights are in proper working order
Avoiding a DUI is fairly simple: do not drink and drive.  Plan a safe way to get home before you even go out.  Also, if you see someone who is about to drive away while impaired, take his or her keys and help the person get a ride home.
If you know of a DUI checkpoint in your neighborhood, you may want to avoid it.  Sobriety checkpoints can prove to be tricky even if you have not consumed alcohol.  Sometimes, in their enthusiasm to catch drunk drivers, officers who run these checkpoints end up making wrongful arrests or mistakenly assume that someone under the influence when he or she is not.  You cannot be arrested simply because you turn away from a checkpoint.
If you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint or Saturation Patrol this St. Patrick’s Day, the experienced Orange County Criminal Law firm of Don Ho, LLP can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
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