Blood Samples

It is wise to have a standardized routine for this procedure, if only to help prevent some of the technical defenses that are frequently raised in court. RTA blood alcohol kits are available with all the necessary equipment, and similar kits are sold in the United States, although their use is not mandatory. Regardless of whether or not a kit is used, appropriate chain of custody forms must be completed, and the record must reflect that alcohol-containing swabs were not used to cleanse the skin (actually, studies have shown that alcohol swabs contribute negligibly to the final result, but the issue is routinely raised in court) (37).

The police officer should identify the doctor to the person, and the doctor should obtain witnessed informed consent. The physician must then determine whether there are any medical reasons why a sample of blood cannot be taken. It is for the doctor to decide from where the sample of blood is taken. The sample should be divided equally between the two bottles and shaken to dis perse the preservative (an additional needle through the rubber membrane helps to equalize the pressure). The bottles should be labeled and placed in the secure containers and caps applied. The driver is allowed to retain one sample, which is placed in an envelope and sealed. The driver is then given a list of analysts.

Under US law, blood may be taken even if the driver objects, providing the driver has been involved in an accident leading to injury or a crime has been committed. Most US states have statutes that excuse individuals with hemophilia and patients taking anticoagulants from blood testing (22). Under British law, a forensic physician may make up to three unsuccessful attempts at taking blood before the driver can reasonably refuse to give blood on grounds that the defendant has lost confidence in the doctor. No such protection exists in US law.

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