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How often do errors happen in DWI cases?

Apr 19, 2016 | DWI

A DWI arrest can be disorienting. It is the first encounter that many people have with the criminal justice system.

This means that the odds you uncover a mistake on your own are slim. It doesn’t, however, mean that they never happen.

Law enforcement officers and crime lab analysts are human and you might be surprised to learn how often errors happen. KHOU 11 News reported on an Office of Inspector General investigation that found repeated mistakes by lab analysts had contaminated blood samples.

Learning curve around new equipment

The Houston Forensic Science Center purchased a new piece of equipment for testing blood alcohol levels. A lab analyst pushed buttons in the wrong order mistakenly injecting testing liquid into a vial of blood. This error left the blood sample unusable.

According to the reports, this mistake occurred three times. The first incident was in May 2015. The same lab analyst along with another co-worker reportedly made a similar mistake in October 2015. Why it took five months and a couple more mistakes to finally report the problem is unclear.

HFSC changed the procedure for handling samples. Now lab analysts must take blood out of the evidence vial and place it in another container. This preserves the original sample if a mistake happens.

Initial stop to testing procedures

An officer may mistakenly stop of your car in the first place. At the other end of the process, a lab analyst error could also affect your case.

When mistakes are made anywhere along this process, there are remedies. For example, contaminated evidence may not be used in court. If a prosecutor cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving a vehicle while impaired, the DWI charges may even be dismissed.

You need to seek help from a DWI attorney who will protect your rights to the fullest extent of the law. This includes identifying weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. The attorneys at the Mingledorff Law Firm are former prosecutors who have also completed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration field sobriety training, which means they are uniquely qualified to defend you against DWI Charges.