Citizens charged with drug or alcohol crimes have brought numerous challenges to the admissibility of blood test evidence in the past few decades. For the most part, Washington courts have held the State to strict standards for forensic testing and required that prosecutors be able to demonstrate use of proper equipment and testing methods. The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Section 448-14-020 https://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=448-14-020 contains specific instructions for what type of collection devices can be used and what products must be incorporated in order to “ensure that the blood sample is properly preserved.” See State v. Clark, 62 Wn. App. 263, 270, 814 P.2d 222 (1991).
Recently, delays in forensic blood testing at the Washington State Toxicology Lab have resulted in analyses being conducted after the expiration date for the vials used for sample collection and storage. Even though blood samples may have been collected while the tubes are un-expired, the actual forensic analysis does not take place until many months later. Meanwhile, the manufacturer’s certification for use of the tubes lapses. Experts dispute the impact of expired vial testing so it is important to thoughtfully develop this evidentiary challenge. Various trial-level courts are currently considering the issue and it may be ripe for argument in implied consent hearings under RCW 46.20.308 https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.20.308. Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals is set to review it soon as well and its decision will have statewide implications.
If you have a criminal case or DOL implied consent proceeding involving forensic blood testing, it is crucial that you work with attorneys who understand the science involved and the legal standards at play. Call Fury Duarte at 425-643-1606 to learn more.