The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in State v. Harper recently held that the results of a blood test taken by hospital staff for use in DUI / OVI cases may only be admitted if the results are shown to be accurate, reliable and valid.
In Harper, a person was involved in a car accident and was taken to the hospital. While being treated, the hospital staff drew a blood sample from the person. The results showed that the person had a blood alcohol level (BAC) that exceeded the legal limit of 0.08. The police obtained the results of the blood test via use of a subpoena and charged the person with DUI / OVI. The person filed a motion to suppress that blood test result.
Are Blood Tests Admissible in Court for DUI / OVI Cases in Ohio?
Pursuant to R.C. 4511.19(D)(1)(a), the result of any blood test obtained by medical professionals may be admitted with expert testimony and, thus, used to determine whether a person is guilty or not. In Harper, the prosecutor argued that a court shall allow the results, even if the medical staff did not follow all of the procedures required for collecting blood samples for DUI / OVI case, so long as an expert witness testifies that the blood test results were validly obtained.
The court in Harper held that the testimony of the state’s expert was necessary in determining the admissibility of the blood test results. The trial court found that the prosecution failed to present expert testimony showing the validity of the person’s blood alcohol test. Specifically, the state’s expert could not verify that the result of the blood test was accurate, could not state that no mistakes were made in the collection of the blood sample, and could not remember collecting the blood sample.
Testing Regulations Not Complied With
Even if the facility that collected the blood sample does not comply with the testing regulations, a court may still deem the test admissible. For example, the 12th District Court of Appeals held in State v. Davenport that blood test results are admissible, even if the state fails to demonstrate compliance with testing regulations, because “all of the proper protocol was complied with in regard to the collection of the blood sample.”
However, the court in Davenport stated that it is up to the discretion of the trial court as to whether the blood test results are admissible. The results of a blood test taken by a health care provider may be admissible with testimony from an expert witness, but it is not mandatory.
The court in Harper held that “the expert testimony that the state present during the trial court’s suppression hearing failed to indicate that the results of the Defendant’s blood test were, in fact, valid, accurate or reliable. Therefore, the trial court properly exercised its discretion by granting the motion to suppress.”
Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI / OVI in Columbus or Delaware, Ohio, contact Johnson Legal, LLC and speak with an experienced Columbus and Delaware, Ohio DUI / OVI attorney. Attorney David Johnson of Johnson Legal, LLC will discuss your case and assist you in fighting the charges. Call (614) 987-0192 or send an email to schedule a consultation regarding your DUI / OVI case.
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