During most traffic stops in which police officers suspect that a person is operating while intoxicated (OWI), the alleged offender will typically be asked to submit to some kind of breath test to determine his or her alcohol concentration. When a person is unable to submit or refuses to provide a breath sample, law enforcement may test for alcohol concentration through a blood draw.
Blood tests can deliver extremely accurate results—assuming they are administered and handled properly. The way that a test is conducted or a sample is stored can profoundly impact that legitimacy of any result.
Des Moines OWI Blood Test Lawyer
Did a test of your blood result in you being arrested for OWI in the Hawkeye State? McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. understands the numerous flaws that can produce inaccurate blood samples, and we fight to get drunk driving charges reduced or completely dismissed for clients all over Iowa.
Our West Des Moines blood test attorneys aggressively defend clients in communities all over Polk County, Dallas County, Guthrie County, Warren County, and Madison County. We will review your case and help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (515) 279-9700 to set up a free initial consultation.
Iowa Blood Test OWI Information Center
- When can police draw blood without a warrant?
- Can I have my own doctor conduct a test of my blood?
- What kind of mistakes during these tests might produce an inaccurate result?
- Where can I learn more about these tests?
A police officer generally needs the consent of an alleged offender before obtaining a blood sample, but refusal to submit to testing does not always prevent law enforcement from conducting one of these tests. Iowa Code § 321J.10 states that refusal to consent to a test does not prohibit the withdrawal of a specimen for chemical testing when a search warrant has been issued in the investigation of an automobile accident that:
- Resulted in a death or personal injury reasonably likely to cause death; and
- There are reasonable grounds to believe that one or more of the persons whose driving may have been the proximate cause of the accident was OWI at the time of the accident.
In addition to blood draws conducted with warrants, Iowa Code §321J.10A also authorizes blood tests without warrants. Under this statute, a chemical test of blood may be administered without the consent of a person arrested for OWI resulting from an accident that caused a death or personal injury reasonably likely to cause death to determine the amount of alcohol or a controlled substance in that person’s blood.
In these types of case, all of the following circumstances must exist:
- The officer must reasonably believe the blood drawn will produce evidence of intoxication;
- The method used to take the blood sample must be reasonable and performed in a reasonable manner by medical personnel under Iowa Code § 321J.11 (see section below); and
- The officer must reasonably believe he or she is confronted with an emergency situation in which the delay necessary to obtain a warrant threatens the destruction of the evidence.
Iowa Code § 321J.11 states that only a licensed physician, licensed physician assistant, medical technologist, or registered nurse—acting at the request of a police officer—can withdraw a blood specimen for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration or the presence of a controlled substance or other drugs. Only new equipment kept under strictly sanitary and sterile conditions can be used for drawing blood under this statute.
It is critical for people to understand that this statute also establishes the right of alleged offenders to have an independent chemical test or tests administered at their own expense in addition to the tests administered at the direction of police officers.
If you have been arrested for OWI and are having your blood drawn for a chemical test, you should immediately exercise this right and make such request repeatedly, if necessary. Rest assured, police officers will not inform you that you are entitled to independent testing.
Keep in mind that any failure or inability of an alleged offender to obtain such an independent test will not preclude the admission of evidence of the results of the test or tests administered at the direction of the peace officer.
Whereas breath and urine tests can be a little more straightforward—although not necessarily without their own occasional flaws—in the collection and storage of samples, blood tests are much more complex. This is precisely why Iowa law mandates specific medical professionals perform these tests.
If you had your blood drawn when you were arrested for OWI in the greater Des Moines area, an experienced lawyer can thoroughly review how this test was handled and identify any one of a number of common errors that could possibly result in the test results being inadmissible evidence in court. Some of the most common types of errors in blood tests include, but are not limited to:
- Sample taken without consent, warrant, or other legal authorization
- Failure to use tamper-proof seals
- Sample was contaminated
- Test results reflects plasma or serum level, not whole blood level
- Improperly stored sample
- Medication or prescription drugs taken by alleged offender produced false positive
Iowa Code Chapter 321J — Statutes relating to OWI are included in this chapter of the Iowa Code. In addition to the statutes regarding chemical tests, you can also read about definitions to key terms.
Ethanol: The Test – Lab Tests Online — This website provides an overview of the ethanol test used to estimate the amount of alcohol in the blood. You can learn more about how the test is used, what the test result means, and if there is anything else you need to know. Additional information elsewhere on the site includes tips for coping with test pain, discomfort, and anxiety during blood tests.
Find an OWI Blood Test Attorney in West Des Moines
If you are facing OWI charges in Iowa as the result of a blood draw taken with or without your consent, you will want to be sure that you have skilled legal counsel for the best chance at securing the most favorable outcome to your case. The lawyers of McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. have more than 40 years of combined experience defending people who were arrested for alleged drunk driving.
Des Moines criminal defense attorneys Timothy McCarthy II and Aaron Hamrock fight for clients in Urbandale, Ankeny, Johnston, West Des Moines, and Altoona. Call (515) 279-9700 today to have us review your case during a free, confidential consultation.