When the police draw your blood, they use a standard vial that has a certain amount of sodium fluoride in it. The sodium fluoride is there to act as a preservative. The problem is that it’s only a temporary preservative.
How Long Does Sodium Fluoride Last In Blood?
Sodium fluoride in a concentration of less than 1%, which is what goes on in a blood vial, is stable for less than two days. Even in a blood tube containing plenty of sodium fluoride, certain bacteria and microbes can continue to flourish in the blood. One of the most common inhabitants of your blood stream is a kind of fungus called Candida albicans.
Candida can live just fine with sodium fluoride around it, and it can continue to consume the sugars in your blood and create alcohol. That means your BAC is going up, even despite the preservative, unless it gets refrigerated.
How Does Refrigeration Affect Your Blood?
Refrigeration is crucial to the handling of blood and very often, it isn’t done by either the police or by the laboratories that test it. Some years ago, I tried a DUI case in a federal court where the blood was an issue. The police officer had taken my client to a hospital where the blood had been drawn.
The police officer then put the blood vials in the trunk of their police cruiser where the blood remained for 11 days. The officer then took the blood out of that cruiser and put it in a police evidence locker at the police station where it remained for an additional 13 days. This means that in all 24 of those days, there was no refrigeration.
Finally, the officer handed the blood over to the lab where they also did not refrigerate the blood for another 31 days. After all of that, the blood was finally put it in a refrigerator, and then a few days later, it was taken out and then tested.
How Do Blood Vials Play A Role In Testing?
When you do blood testing, the defendant has the right to have their own blood testing done, and in the evidence packet that was produced to us, we were able to see that there are always two vials taken, and they took a picture of these two vials. One of the vials was about 80% filled with blood, and the other vial was about 45% filled with blood.
These vials are called vacutainers and the way they work is there is a vacuum in it, and it literally sucks the blood out when they put the needle in. That’s why it fills so fast and why there’s no air to then push out. There’s supposed to be the exact same amount of vacuum in each tube, which means it should draw the exact same volume of blood into the tube.
When you look at these two tubes and the very different amount of alcohol in the two, you can see something is off. We brought in a doctor who testified that as a matter of medical certainty, the blood in one or both of those vials had been contaminated and could not be relied on for any BAC.