Blood evidence is far superior to a breath sample for DUI prosecutions. As stated in previous articles, breath testing is based on various assumptions and constants. Breath samples are converted into BAC results to determine a person’s level of impairment. More and more law enforcement agencies are not, however, using breath tests because of the questions surrounding the reliability of those scientific assumptions.
While a blood test provides stronger scientific evidence of impairment it is much less convenient then a breath test. Blood tests obviously require a medically trained individual unlike breath tests which simply require a police officer to use a device in an appropriate manner. While someone should have some type of qualification to administer blood tests the law does not require this individual to be a doctor, nurse, or any type of licensed person. There is no general rule for qualifications and the law only requires that the person taking this sample be acting in accordance with his or her job description.
Further, the law in Pennsylvania does not even require that blood be taken at an approved medical facility such as a hospital or clinic but it only requires that an approved clinical laboratory perform the chemical analysis of the sample taken. While some may argue that a blood test is a medical procedure you should understand that Pennsylvania does not require either a doctor or a nurse to order its administration. The law only requires that a police officer make the request and the police officer doesn’t even need to be present while the sample is taken.
After the sample is taken a laboratory and a trained scientist approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health must perform the analysis. Pennsylvania publishes a list of approved laboratories each year and also the minimum list of qualifications for scientist working in the facility. Approved laboratory equipment, approved procedures, and qualified scientists are the minimal threshold for the admissibility for the blood test. The fact that the prosecution can meet this minimal requirement does not prohibit the defense from challenging the reliability of the tests results.