Los Angeles Blood Hematocrit
After someone has been pulled over and arrested for a Los Angeles driving under the influence offense, he or she will be asked to submit to chemical testing to determine blood alcohol content. The driver is given the option of taking either the breath or blood test. In many cases, people will choose the breath test. This option is less invasive than the blood test, which requires a blood draw by a licensed medical professional. Officers tend to encourage drivers to take the breath test because the results are immediately available and the test can be administered at the police station, as opposed to the blood test which requires the suspect to be transported to a hospital or similar facility.
The breath test is typically taken on a Breathalyzer machine which measures a person’s blood alcohol content by using infrared technology. However, there are several factors that can result in a person producing erroneously elevated BAC results. One factor that can affect Breathalyzer BAC results is the test taker’s blood composition.
Blood is made up of microscopic particles suspended in a liquid known as plasma. The particles include red blood cells, white bloods cells and clotting platelets. The percentage of particles in relation to plasma in an individual’s blood is known as the hematocrit of the blood. The more particles in a sample, the higher the hematocrit measurement would be.
Alcohol is soluble in water which means that when alcohol is introduced into the bloodstream it will be found in higher concentrations in the plasma portion of the blood when comparted to the particulate portion. This means that the higher a person’s hematocrit is, the less plasma will be in blood which would lead to a higher concentration of alcohol and thus a higher blood alcohol content when measured. If two people consume the same amount of alcohol and one has a higher hematocrit, the plasma of that person will have a higher alcohol concentration.
This concept comes into play when considering the results of a Breathalyzer test. Alcohol that is in the lung tissue will spread by diffusion to the air in a person’s lungs and the concentration of alcohol in the breath sample is considered to be directly proportional to the concentration of alcohol in the blood. However this principle only applies to liquids, not solids. Thus, blood that has a smaller proportion of plasma and more particulate matter (i.e. a high hematocrit) will erroneously show a higher BAC than someone who consumed the same amount of alcohol but has a lower hematocrit. Hematocrits can vary between individuals by as much as 15 percent, which can significantly affect the results of a BAC breath test.
A person can have his or her hematocrit measured by taking a blood test and it may be necessary for someone who has been charged with driving under the influence to introduce evidence of his or her hematocrit measurements. It may be necessary to use the testimony of an expert witness who possesses a thorough understanding of biology and blood composition.
Someone who is anemic can also have a distorted BAC result. When a person is suffering from anemia, the proportion of plasma in his or her blood is substantially higher. This would subsequently lead to a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood and a higher BAC reading when tested on a Breathalyzer machine. This may be used to show that a defendant’s BAC results were not an accurate representation of his or impairment or were distorted as a result of a preexisting medical condition. This analysis would apply to test results that were obtained from the Breathalyzer machine used at the police station as well as the results taken using the Preliminary Alcohol Sensor (“PAS”) device that is used in the field during the preliminary DUI investigation.
If you have been arrested for DUI and took a breath test at any point, it is absolutely critical that you consult with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut understands many of the complicated issues surrounding DUI chemical testing and knows how to effectively attack the prosecution’s case.
For more information about Los Angeles blood hematocrit, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.