During the course of all Rhode Island DUI investigations, the Police will ask a suspect to submit to a chemical test.  The term "chemical test" refers to both chemical breath tests and the drawing of blood for analysis.  Blood tests in Rhode Island DUI cases are done almost exclusively by a licensed / registered nurse at a local hospital.  To be used against a suspect in a criminal DUI case, the blood draw must be done in a particular manner and protocols established by the Rhode Island Department of Health.  Once drawn, the blood must be handled and tested according to further protocols established by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

At the Law Offices of Matthew T. Marin, Esq. Inc., we have successfully challenged the prosecutions use of blood test evidence in criminal trials in dozens of different ways.  Below we will discuss the different protocols that must be followed for the prosecution to utilize blood test evidence against you in a criminal DUI trial and the different ways that a skilled Rhode Island DUI Defense Lawyer can challenge the introduction of blood test evidence.  Sources of information relevant to Blood Test Results in Rhode Island DUI cases include:

RI DUI Statute  -  RI Department of Health Blood Testing Rules & Regulations

For information and a no obligation case analysis, contact Attorney Matthew Marin 24/7 at 401-228-8271 or by completing our CASE EVALUATION FORM.

Rules for Blood Tests in Rhode Island DUI Cases

The number of different rules pertaining to the extraction, testing, and use of blood test evidence in Rhode Island DUI cases is exceedingly complex for both the Prosecution and the Police.  The rules form an intricate web of hurdles that must be overcome so that the blood evidence can be presented at trial.  Those rules come mainly from the Rhode Island DUI Statute (Rhode Island General Law 31-27-2) and Rules and Regulations created by the Rhode Island Department of Health.  These rules apply both when the blood is being drawn and when the blood is being tested.

Protocol for the Police and Hospital Personnel When Drawing Blood Evidence

When the Police seek to introduce blood test evidence at a criminal DUI trial in Rhode Island, the first thing the prosecution must show (except in forced draw warrant cases, which are exceedingly rare) that the Defendant consented to the taking of the test.  To prove consent to a blood test, the Police must have complied with the following conditions required by the Rhode Island DUI Statute:

  1. he Defendant must have been read his/her "Rights for Use at Scene";

  2. The Defendant must have been read his/her "Rights for Use at Station" or "Rights for Use at Hospital";

  3. The Defendant must have been permitted a confidential phone call prior to consenting to the blood test.

In addition to the conditions required by the Rhode Island DUI Statute, the Rhode Island Department of Health has issued Rules and Regulations which must be complied with when actually drawing the blood to be tested.  Those requirements include:

  1. he blood must be collected by "a licensed physician, a registered nurse, or other licensed health care practitioner acting within the scope of his/her practice, or a 'medical technician'";

  2. rior to the blood draw, the skin must be cleaned with a "sanitizing agent devoid of alcohol";

  3. he blood must be collected in a sterile laboratory tube and must contain chemicals designed to prevent bacterial growth;

  4. he blood must be turned over to the Police at the time of the blood drawing.

Protocol for the Police and the Department of Health When Testing Blood Evidence

After the blood has been drawn and the Police leave the Hospital with the blood, certain steps must be taken to allow the results of the blood test to be admitted into evidence.  Once again, the Police must comply with the rules created by both the Rhode Island DUI Statute and the Rhode Island Department of Health Regulations.  The Police must:

  1. aintain chain-of-custody and minimize the deterioration of the specimen;

  2. void prolonged exposure of the specimen to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit;

  3. eliver the specimen to the laboratory as soon as practical;

  4. efrigerate the tubes without preservatives until transported to the laboratory.

Once delivered to the laboratory, the Department of Health conducts standard DUI testing protocols.  Those protocols will vary depending upon what is discovered within the blood.  If evidence of alcohol is discovered in the blood, the exact blood alcohol concentration will be reported to the Police Department who is then obligated to report that information to the Defendant within 30 days of the blood draw.

However, if evidence of drugs are identified within the blood the sample may be sent for further testing.  If the blood tests for the presence of marijuana, the Rhode Island Department of Health will conduct further testing to determine the amount or concentration of the marijuana within the blood.  If the blood tests for the presence of other drugs, the blood is typically sent to an out-of-state laboratory for testing to determine the amount or concentration of drugs in the blood.

Challenges to the Use of Blood Test Evidence in Rhode Island Criminal DUI Cases

As an experienced Rhode Island DUI Defense Lawyer, Attorney Matthew Marin has successfully challenged the admissibility of blood test results in DUI cases on dozens of different grounds.  Some of the challenges we have successfully argued include:

  • Lack of Consent - Client was unconscious at the time of the blood draw / Did not understand their rights 

  • Chain-of-Custody / Integrity of Specimen - Police were not able to explain how the blood was preserved and transported

  • Improper Testing - A sanitizing agent "devoid of alcohol" was not used; hospital protocol requires an alcohol swab

  • Confrontation Clause Issues - Blood tested out-of-state requires witness testimony from the technicians who did the test

  • Licensed / Registered Nurse - The Nurse who conducted the blood draw is required to establish their qualification(s)