The Orange County Crime Lab has reported that, between May and October of this year, its testing of blood-alcohol in DUI cases has produced flawed results. Calibration errors in testing equipment produced blood-alcohol testing results approximately 0.01 percent higher than the actual blood-alcohol content.
Spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Farrah Emami, said that between May 29 and October 9, about 2,200 DUI cases were filed. Of those who have been charged with a DUI in that time, approximately 900 have been resolved. “In the vast majority of these cases, there will be no impact,” according to Emami.
According to the Director of the Orange County Crime Lab, Bruce Houlihan, only about 20 people who tested above the legal limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content will drop below the legal limit.
For those 900 people who have since resolved their case, letters have been sent informing them of the flawed results.
For the other 1,300 whose cases remain open, they will be provided accurate results. Blood samples will be re-tested and updated accurate results will be posted to the Orange County Crime Lab’s website by December 1.
While the BAC levels of only about 20 people will drop below the legal limit of 0.08 percent, there is no way to tell how the error will affect other cases. Furthermore, just because a person is below a 0.08 percent, even by 0.01 percent, a prosecutor can still file California DUI charges.
Although a 0.01 percent difference may not seem like a big deal, it may be the difference between someone making the decision to take a plea deal or fight the case.
What the District Attorney’s Office conveniently failed to mention is that enhanced penalties are also given when a person shows a blood alcohol of 0.15 percent or higher. The error may lead to a much harsher punishment than would have been given otherwise.
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