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Independent lab finds flaws in Colorado’s blood tests for DUI


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Law enforcement in Colorado is no stranger to faulty blood testing in DUI cases. In 2013 the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was shut down after blood testing was found to be biased against defendants and staff was found to be poorly trained to handle blood samples.

In 2014 the Colorado Bureau of Investigation took over the testing duties previously handled by the health department, but an independent lab recently discovered that CBI’s testing has also been inaccurate in at least 56 cases.

Still, CBI has declined to indicate what caused the mistakes. Human error? Faulty equipment? Poor training? We won’t be sure until the bureau makes full disclosure.

What is certain is that the testing errors cast doubt over the integrity of the system and whether blood samples are being handled properly while defendants face the possibility of serious penalties for DUI.

CBI’s testing labs opened in July 2015, and since then the labs have handled roughly 1,500 DUI blood samples for law enforcement agencies across the state. The independent lab ChemaTox conducted quality-assurance re-testing and found that alcohol levels in 56 cases were actually lower than what was found in the initial testing.

However, that mistakes on this scale are occurring at all should encourage anyone accused of DUI to explore every available option for fighting the charge. Police and prosecutors make mistakes, and not everyone charged with drunk driving is guilty.

As for the CBI labs, defense attorneys are calling for all blood samples tested since July 2015 to be re-tested.

For more on what to do after being pulled over for DUI, please see our DUI defense overview.

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