Bucks County may own its own DUI testing lab…

June 1, 2010

The Bucks County Courier Times reports that the new Bucks County District Attorney, David Heckler, has requested and may get his own chemical testing crime lab. The main job of this crime lab would be to test Bucks County DUI defendants for blood alcohol content (BAC) and controlled substances. It has been reported that Bucks County currently pays a private lab about $250,000 a year to test blood samples. The Bucks County District Attorney's new crime lab is estimated to save the County about $90,000 a year when it is up and running. The new crime lab would cost Bucks County about $200,000 to set up.

A DUI suspect may be tested for DUI in Bucks County, Pennsylvania by either supplying a blood sample or by providing a breath sample at the police station. In addition to blood and breath tests, a Bucks County DUI suspect's urine may be tested. The arresting police officer has the option as to which DUI test he or she desires to conduct. Most local police officers and Pennsylvania State Police officers assigned to Bucks County opt to have the DUI suspect give blood and sometimes urine at the closest hospital. The blood and/or urine sample is then taken to the lab for testing.

Should the District Attorney's Office crime lab be trusted to test the 3,500 or so DUI defendants' blood or urine? Should Bucks County DUI suspects' blood only be tested by an independent laboratory? What is independent? If Bucks County pays the independent lab $250,000 a year, is the lab really independent?

As a defense attorney, I would certainly advise my clients that they have the option of having their own blood tested by an independent source. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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