West Virginia Supreme Court delivers ruling on DUI blood tests

There are sometimes discrepancies between the three primary methods of measuring blood-alcohol concentration. Most readers are familiar with the breath test (commonly referred to as a breathalyzer), but BAC can also be measured with blood or urine tests as well.

If you fail a breath test and believe that the results may have been inaccurate, West Virginia law allows you to request a blood test within two hours of your DUI arrest. A recent ruling by the state Supreme Court, however, specifies that a person arrested for DUI must clearly ask the investigating officer for a blood test if they wish to take one.

The case concerned a West Virginia woman who was arrested for DUI in August of 2010. She allegedly failed all three sobriety tests as well as two breath tests. After the woman’s license was revoked, she challenged the revocation at an administrative hearing.

The defendant claimed that she had twice requested a blood test but was never given one. The first “request” was apparently a phone call that the woman made to her daughter from the back of the police car. She told her daughter she would be requesting a blood test. The second request was apparently from inside her jail cell. The woman says she asked “a passing guard or some other employee” but was never given a test.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ultimately decided that the defendant’s license was correctly revoked because she never clearly requested a blood test from the investigating officer.

To the casual observer, cases like this can seem like splitting hairs. But when it comes to drunk-driving charges, the details matter. As such, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: West Virginia Gazette, Supreme Court overrules Putnam DUI decision,” Ryan Quinn, Oct. 30, 2014

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