The fact that thousands of drunk driving cases will be reviewed again in Texas might not concern many people here in Kentucky. However, the case in Texas could very soon impact DUI cases across the country.
What's happening in Texas?
Harris County in Texas will review more than 7,500 DUI cases, all because of a product recall.
A company in New Jersey, BD, creates the vials that store blood samples in DUI cases across the nation. However, that company discovered that many of the vials produced since Aug. 31, 2018, did not include the proper preservatives to prevent those blood samples from clotting.
Why is this such a big problem?
The preservatives in the vials also keep the blood sample from changing. And as the Houston Chronicle reports, several of the samples could have higher levels of blood alcohol content (BAC) now than when the individual was pulled over.
For example, a blood sample collected at the time of the traffic stop could be below the legal limit. But if the labs do not test the sample right away—which they usually do not—then the BAC could be significantly higher and make the penalties worse for individuals.
How could this impact Kentuckians?
Many agencies across the country use BD's products in their forensic crime labs. But the defective vials created in the last year could taint evidence. These defects could have resulted in false or improper DUI convictions this last year.
The recall might also force counties across Kentucky to reconsider and reopen old cases, or even throw out more recent DUI charges.
DUI cases depend on evidence
Nearly every DUI case relies on evidence:
- First, the police must have probable cause—or evidence—to pull someone over.
- Then they must collect even more evidence through Breathalyzers and blood testing to arrest and convict someone.
A DUI charge can have significant adverse effects on someone's life. So, if these defective products could result in improper evidence and a false conviction, then those individuals have a right to challenge their conviction and reclaim their life.
The courts and counties are taking the correct actions to reconsider the cases impacted by these defective vials. However, it might be beneficial for individuals who faced DUI charges within the last year to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand all of the options that could be available to them with this new development.