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Blood Split Motion

Blood Split Motions in California DUI Cases

Under California law, drivers who decide to take a DUI blood test can get a blood sample for independent testing, which is accomplished through a “blood split” motion. They are allowed under Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations.

 Simply put, a “blood split” in California is the method of splitting DUI blood samples into two containers. One of them is used by the police for testing a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC), while the other is saved for the driver if they want their blood independently retested.

Blood Split Motions in California DUI Cases
California law allows DUI drivers to get a sample of their blood for independent testing.

This method only applies when drivers decide to take blood or must take one. In cases of driving under the influence of alcohol cases, most people are offered blood or breath tests. Breath samples can't be saved, so taking a blood test is typically preferred after an arrest for drunk driving

Thus, the “blood split” motion means to ask the court to produce a sample of the defendant's blood for independent testing to verify the accuracy of the BAC test conducted by police.  

As noted, the “splitting” only applies when a suspected DUI driver takes a blood test. In some cases, they have no choice but to give blood because of the unavailability of a breath machine or the driver is highly intoxicated and unable to perform a breath test.

Police can't force drivers to take a DUI blood test without a warrant. If a driver refuses to take any chemical test, they will face additional penalties, such as a driver's license suspension for one year.  Suppose your independent blood test results differ from the test the police gave. It might be sufficient to get the DUI case dropped in that case.

How Can a Blood Split Motion Help You?

Blood split motions could be a valuable tool to fight DUI charges because it might cast doubt on the accuracy of chemical test results obtained by law enforcement, which are typically presumed accurate. This means your defense lawyer must prove they might be inaccurate through independent test results that show you had less alcohol or drugs in your system.

Suppose you are arrested for VC 23152 DUI in California. In that case, you must legally submit to a chemical test, such as a blood or breath test.  If your BAC is 0.08% or higher, you are typically formally charged with driving under the influence. 

An experienced DUI lawyer will typically recommend a blood test, rather than a breath, for a few important reasons, such as accuracy and independent verification of the blood test. You need to consider the following:  

  • External factors like medical conditions can impact DUI breath tests. A blood test, however, will calculate the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, which is typically more accurate in terms of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This means when your BAC is close to the legal limit of .08%, it can help you.  
  • DUI breath samples can't be saved for later independent testing, but blood samples differ. This could be advantageous later if you decide to challenge the test conducted by the police.
  • A blood-split motion is the legal right to an independent test of the evidence against you. When you give a DUI blood test, the prosecutor is required to save a sample, which is why it's called a "blood split."
  • Once a blood split motion is filed, the judge will formally order the release of the reserved sample to an independent lab, which the defense lawyer selected. Once the blood sample is received, they will perform their test to determine accuracy. If the independent results vary significantly from the original testing, the DUI case income can be impacted.

What are the Laws for California Drunk Driving Cases?

The most common California drunk driving charges include the following:

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC – driving under the influence.
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC – driving with a BAC higher than .08%.
  • Vehicle Code 23152(d) VC – commercial vehicle DUI at .04%.
  • Vehicle Code 23152(e) VC - DUI by limo or ridesharing at .04.
  • Vehicle Code 23153(f) VC – driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
  • Vehicle Code 23140 VC – underage DUI at 0.05% or higher.
  • Vehicle Code 23136 VC – zero tolerance law at 0.01%.

What is the Importance of Independent Testing?

In DUI cases, a prosecutor must prove that your driving was impaired by alcohol or drugs. The “legal limit” for alcohol is the level at which the prosecutor no longer must prove impairment.

Often, a borderline test result and other evidence like a field sobriety test are sufficient for a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, independent blood testing can be critical to discredit the original BAC results.

Notably, you have the right to examine the evidence against you. Under Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, police must follow specific guidelines when conducting DUI chemical testing, such as the following: 

  • An authorized and trained technician must collect the blood sample.
  • The blood sample must be protected from contamination.
  • The vials for blood collection must have sufficient preservatives.
  • Law enforcement must collect the blood sample as soon as possible after the alleged DUI. 

Sometimes, these required rules are not followed and might lead to the contamination of the DUI evidence. Thus, independent testing is crucial to verify or challenge the accuracy of police testing. If it's determined that the above rules were not followed, the evidence might be deemed admissible in court.

How Can a Blood Split Motion Help Fight DUI Charges?

A “blood split” motion typically begins when your lawyer informally asks the prosecutor for a portion of the sample, which they will usually agree to this request. Suppose the prosecutor refuses or fails to turn over the blood split within fifteen days; the court can order the prosecutor to do it. 

Independent testing of a blood split is sometimes a valuable tool to challenge the evidence that you are guilty of driving under the influence. Remember, prosecutors have the burden beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you.  

As noted, suppose there is some discrepancy between your independent blood test results and the results of law enforcement. In that case, it may create enough reasonable doubt to get the DUI case dismissed. Thus, let's review some ways your lawyer can use the independent results of blood testing:

  • You had a BAC below 0.08% at the time of driving.  
  • There were errors in how the blood sample was handled.
  • The blood sample was contaminated.

Suppose your independent blood test shows a lower BAC result than the initial test; it might be sufficient evidence to challenge the DUI charge. 

For example, if your independent test shows a BAC level below .08%, the prosecutor might decide to drop the DUI case. Simply put, the independent test can challenge the accuracy of the first blood test.

How Can a Blood Split Motion Help Fight DUI Charges?

Independent blood testing might reveal errors in how the original blood sample was handled. For instance, suppose your blood was improperly collected and stored, or the testing equipment was not calibrated correctly. In that case, it might impact the accuracy of the results. Simply put, independent testing can challenge the testing procedure.

The independent laboratory could check for signs of contamination in the blood sample. Suppose some contamination is discovered. In that case, it can be used by your lawyer to challenge the validity of the original test. Any contamination can artificially inflate the BAC results. 

Notably, a blood split result does not always help you. There is a good chance the independent testing confirmed the accuracy of the original blood test. Sometimes, the independent results show a higher BAC than the results of the police law. Your lawyer does not have to show this evidence to the court if this occurs. Simply put, the blood-split motion often will not help your DUI defense.

Suppose you have been charged with driving under the influence and would like to file a blood-split motion. In that case, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. Cron, Israels & Stark is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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