All it takes is one simple error or violation of lab protocol can completely compromise the evidence in a DUI or OVI case. This was shown very clearly in a recent news story that highlighted "sloppy work" carried out by criminalist at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Crime Lab. In its news report, 10TV News (WBNS-10TV) interviewed Attorney Jon Saia, who saw firsthand through an OVI case he handled what can happen when there are problems with how evidence is handled in the crime lab. To watch the broadcast news segment, click here.
In the case that was affected, the defendant (represented by Attorney Saia) was a being accused of a fifth OVI offense that led to the death of a 19-year-old bicyclist. The defendant, who had four prior OVI convictions, is said to have had a blood alcohol concentration that was almost two times the legal limit, according to the news story. The man was facing up to a year in jail, but he was able to get a sentence of just 30 days in jail after he entered a plea to an OVI charge. He was able to obtain this lighter sentence because of issues with the evidence in his case, which was a result of the criminalist's poor-quality work in the crime lab.
As outlined by 10TV News, an initial investigation showed that the criminalist had spent on-the-clock hours browsing the Internet, which she used to shop online, plan her wedding and pay personal bills. While the criminalist was put on work probation, a second investigation was conducted. This investigation uncovered a number of protocol violations by the criminalist. According to 10TV News, it was shown that she:
- Entered an erroneous assignment date on 48 different drug screens
- Reported in two drug screens that she had used a testing substance, despite the fact that that substance had already been used up
- Got rid of a daily status report only to recreate it days later and backdate it
- Delayed documentation of a transfer of samples by several days
Attorney Saia called issues with lab work "an accused drunk driver's best friend," since these problems can result in evidence being thrown out. He noted that he was thrilled at the results of his case as a defense lawyer, but as a citizen, he is disgusted by the larger implications of the ordeal with the crime lab.
Attorney Saia, who has more than 23 years of legal experience, regularly provides legal commentary on OVI-related topics in the media. The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc. provides high-quality criminal defense for individuals who are accused of OVI and many other times of crimes. Contact our firm to sign up for a free consultation!