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Washington Prosecutors Unable to Obtain Timely Blood Test Results for Drivers Accused of DUI

Posted by Steve Karimi | Apr 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

Law enforcement officers are cracking down on drivers who are operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). In many instances, a blood sample is taken from the suspect, which is sent to the Washington State Patrol toxicology lab for testing. This lab is apparently unable to efficiently process the samples. In some cases, it has taken up to eight months for the court proceedings to begin due to the delay. In the meanwhile, some suspects continue to use drugs and alcohol and drive, posing a safety risk in the community.

Recent Case

The number of drug-related DUI cases has risen in recent years as marijuana was legalized and there was a rise in opioid abuse. Vern Henderson, 44, was apparently driving under the influence of the drug PCP when he struck and killed 24-year-old Taylor Goehring along Rainier Avenue. Months earlier, Henderson had been charged with DUI and was awaiting a pending trial. An attorney for the Goehring family explained that if Henderson's case had been handled in a timely manner that he would have likely been prohibited from driving.

Budget Shortfall

Unlike alcohol, testing for drugs cannot be done using the much simpler breathalyzer testing. Captain Monica Alexander of the Washington State Patrol feels that the state needs to allocate more financial resources to increase the efficiency of the state's laboratory. The agency estimates that the additional staff needed will cost $3 million annually and is notifying lawmakers.

Constitutional Challenge

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that a warrant is not necessary for having suspects submit to a blood test. Those who disagree say that drawing blood outside of standard clinical setting is not hygienic and the process infringes on people's rights. Currently, Washington is one of nine states that have phlebotomy programs to handle DUI blood tests. Those who actually perform the blood draw must complete training and certification programs.

Driving While Intoxicated

According to RCW 46.61.506, a driver may be charged with DUI when nanograms of THC exist in their blood. The testing and analysis are overseen by a toxicologist who issues permits. The state has a list of standards and qualifications that must be satisfied for proper testing.  One example is that the sample of blood must be taken using properly sterilized tools and the skin must be disinfected. 

Importance of Legal Representation When Charged for DUI

Those who have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may face significant consequences. You may be required to spend some time in jail, pay large fines, lose your driving privileges, and more. Those who must drive in the scope of their employment duties could lose their job. It is critical to promptly retain an experienced defense attorney in these situations.

Attorney for Aggressive DUI Defense in Washington State

Steve Karimi is a lawyer that has a firm understanding of the state's DUI laws. Contact the office today at (206) 621-8777 for an evaluation of your case.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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