In March a car accident occurred in Tennessee. A person died in that accident. There is a difference, however, between a fatal accident and a fatal drunk driving accident. That difference significantly impacts a man's life, reputation, future and freedom.
Partly responsible for determining that difference is a toxicology lab that authorities depend on to calculate the blood alcohol content of blood tests in DUI cases. The evidence that comes out of the labs is used to prosecute or defend suspects, depending on the result of the tests. Those results, therefore, must be accurate to set the scene for justice.
That is what makes an incident related to a Tennessee toxicology lab result so troubling. Right now, it has been identified that one man's vehicular homicide case went wrong because of a lab worker's mistake. The worker reportedly found that the defendant's BAC test level was higher than it actually was when the fatal crash happened, according to a separate test.
That mistake supported a severe DUI-related homicide charge and what could have resulted in a conviction for the defendant. His defense lawyer had an individual test done that disproved the lab's test, and now the defendant's charge has been dismissed. Not only was his BAC level not the high 0.24 that the lab worker found it to be; it was close to 0.
Maybe this is an isolated incident. But the lives and freedoms of other Tennessee DWI defendants are too valuable to assume that no other mistakes took place in the lab. The individual worker no longer works in the lab. The samples that he has handled in the past year, however, still could be problems for those whose cases depend on them.
Source: WSMV, "TN toxicology tests under scrutiny as TBI investigates lab worker," Carley Gordon, Oct. 23, 2013