U.S. Supreme Court - Drunk Driving Decision

On June 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision involving drunk driving ("DUI"). The defendant had been charged with aggravated drunk driving ( DUI with readings over .15) and the defendant did submit to a test of his blood. At trial, the lab technician who analyzed the defendant's blood was unavailable and another lab technician testified regarding the lab report, the analysis of the defendant's blood and that his alcohol level was over the legal limit. The defendant was convicted of DUI and appealed his conviction. The Appeals Court upheld his conviction.

The U.S. Supreme Court in reversing the lower courts held that all criminal defendants have the right to confront the witnesses against them. The defendant in this case was denied his rights to confront the lab technician who analyzed his blood. The Court concluded the lab report was used to prove a fact in the criminal prosecution of the defendant, mainly that he had high levels of alcohol in his system, and that the defendant had a right to cross-examine the actual lab technician who performed the analysis of his blood. The other lab technician was insufficient because he did not prepare the actual report.

This case has far reaching consequences in the area of drunk driving defense. The State can no longer submit a lab report analyzing a motorist's breath, blood or urine and their alcohol levels, without having the lab technician who prepared the report available to testify in person. If the lab technician is unavailable to testify, the report is inadmissible. Without other evidence of intoxication, this may led to the dismissal of the drunk driving charge.

If you or a family member has been charged with drunk driving, reckless driving or refusal to submit to a chemical test, please allow attorney Robert H. Humphrey's reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Contact Robert H. Humphrey at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at

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