In any criminal defense case, the reliability of the evidence presented by the state is important for criminal defendants to carefully scrutinize and challenge, when necessary. In the context of DUI defense, it is particularly important to look at the reliability of evidence related to blood-alcohol content.
Each state has its own approach to ensure the integrity of blood samples. For DUI defendants, it is possible to challenge blood samples in DUI cases by showing that the rules were not followed. It is also possible to challenge the rules themselves, which is what John Goodman, founder of the Wellington polo club, is currently doing.
Goodman was convicted of DUI manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to 16 years in prison in connection with a crash that resulted in the death of a University of Central Florida engineering graduate. Goodman’s blood-alcohol content was measured to be more than twice the legal limit. Although prosecutors pointed to the blood-alcohol test as evidence of Goodman’s intoxication, he argued that he was not intoxicated at the time of the crash, and that his blood-alcohol content was a result of drinking a significant amount of alcohol after the crash while looking for a phone to call the police. Last year, an appellate court denied Goodman’s request to take a look at the case, and he later appealed to the Supreme Court in another effort to have the blood-alcohol evidence thrown out.
At issue in the case is whether the procedures for collecting blood samples are really reliable. One of his attorneys argues that there aren’t any guidelines for the type of needle to be used, nor are there any rules to ensure the integrity of blood samples used at trial. They argue that the diameter of the needle used to collect the blood can affect the quality of the blood sample, potentially skewing the results due to the fact that clotted blood results in higher blood-alcohol content levels.
Depending on how the case is resolved, there could potentially be changes in the way blood samples are gathered in Florida. Criminal defense attorneys, therefore, are keeping a close eye on this case.