Los Angeles DUI and Toxicology
All driving under the influence cases require that the prosecutor prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time that he or she was driving a motor vehicle. To prove intoxication, law enforcement and prosecutors rely on the officer’s observations as well as the toxicology reports generated showing the results of chemical testing. In California, a driver can choose either a breath or blood test when he or she is arrested on suspicion of DUI. Drivers who refuse testing can still be charged with driving under the influence in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC in addition to the refusal allegation which would add additional penalties, including mandatory jail time.
Toxicology is the study of the effects of foreign chemicals on the human body and many scientists focus on this area of study. There may be several factors that affect a driver’s BAC level at the time of testing and in some cases it may be necessary to procure the services of a toxicologist to serve as an expert witness for the defense. Toxicologists can be useful in challenging both breath and blood test results.
It is important to remember that the results of chemical testing only show what a person’s BAC was at the time of testing and not necessarily what his or her BAC was at the time of driving. Toxicologists study how alcohol and drugs are absorbed and metabolized by the human body. When a person drinks alcohol, his or her BAC will slowly rise as the alcohol is being absorbed into the body, level off and then fall as the alcohol is processed and excreted. There may be cases where a person in the rising blood alcohol phase of absorption has a BAC below the 0.08 percent threshold at the time of driving but produces a test result above 0.08 percent when tested at a later time. In these cases, the testimony of a qualified toxicologist can be absolutely critical in showing why the defendant was not driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
Many toxicology experts are highly experienced in dealing with the blood testing process and some may have been employed by law enforcement crime laboratories during their careers. These experts can testify regarding the reliability of the blood testing process and what errors may have occurred that threaten the integrity of the defendant’s blood sample.
California law requires that a portion of the defendant’s blood sample be set aside for independent testing. The defense can request a blood split order and can have the defendant’s blood retested at an independent laboratory. If the results of the blood split testing are favorable, the defense may need to call a toxicologist from the lab to testify regarding the results of retesting.
The defense can also call a toxicology expert to testify during the driver’s DMV administrative hearing. A toxicologist can testify regarding the calibration and maintenance records of the breath testing device and can explain to the DMV hearing officer why a driver’s BAC was under 0.08 percent at the time of driving as the result of a rising blood alcohol level. In many cases, the testimony of a toxicologist can result in the driver’s suspension being set aside.
If you have been charged with DUI, it is crucial that you talk 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 works with the top toxicologists to make sure that no avenue of defense is left unexplored when fighting a DUI charge.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and toxicology, 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.