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DUI charges dropped over inaccurate sample

On Sept. 5, prosecutors in Florida dropped DUI manslaughter charges against a 22-year-old man after his defense lawyer and experts challenged the validity of his blood toxicology results. The charges stemmed from an April 2013 fatal crash that killed five individuals. Sources say that the defendant was driving his Mercedes CLK on an exit ramp of Interstate 95 when he collided with a 1994 Lexus headed down Blue Heron Boulevard in Rivera Beach.

According to local reports, the defense lawyer noticed a discrepancy on the label of the defendant's blood sample drawn hours after the collision. State experts confirmed the misgivings, stating that the defendant would had to have been smoking significant amounts of marijuana in his bed at the hospital in order to register the THC levels recorded on the sample. His lawyers contended that the blood sample was either inaccurate or did not come from the defendant. Officials at the hospital, however, refuted the possibility that the sample was mislabeled.

In a statement, the assistant state attorney did not mention the inaccurate blood sample when describing the decision to drop the DUI manslaughter charges. She maintained that authorities had probable cause in making the arrest, but that the evidence did not meet the legal requirements to criminally prosecute the man in trial. Earlier in the year, the defendant was also acquitted of unrelated misdemeanor marijuana charges by a jury.

People who have been arrested for DUI could benefit from the assistance of legal counsel. A lawyer might review police reports and possibly discern whether there are any viable points of contention to challenge the prosecution's case. If acquittal or dismissal seems unlikely, a lawyer might still be able to help a defendant obtain a plea agreement with a more lenient sentence.

Source: The Palm Beach Post, "DUI charges dropped in 2013 Riviera Beach crash that killed 5", Daphne Duret, September 05, 2014

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