The continuation of the Goodman hearings in advance of the October 6th re-trial date are underway again this morning. As discussed in last week’s article, Goodman’s retrial regarding the highly publicized 2010 Wellington crash that resulted in Scott Patrick Wilson’s death is scheduled to begin on October 6, 2014. Today, one of the issues to be discussed is the validity of the blood alcohol test results due to the methods used to collect Goodman’s blood after the fatal crash.
Laura Barfield, a former crime lab analyst at FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement), took the stand this morning to testify about the blood testing methods used in the Goodman case. Barfield was the manager of the alcohol testing program at FDLE in 2010 during the initial testing of Goodman’s blood. However, she resigned in April of 2013 in the wake of a scandal involving her alleged charging of personal expenses on her State credit card.
Barfield testified this morning that there are various steps necessary when taking a blood draw and testing that are all important to obtain the proper result. For example, the use a non-alcohol wipe is crucial so as not to introduce outside alcohol into the blood sample when blood is being drawn. Additionally, the Goodman defense team has raised the argument that Goodman’s blood alcohol test results are flawed because the wrong sized needle was used; however, according to Barfield, the testing rules do not require a certain sized needle to be used.
The hearings will continue today and go through Wednesday. The Palm Beach Post has a live feed of the testimony, found here.
In Florida, blood tests are typically the most accurate of the alcohol level tests, but also are considered to be the most invasive. As a result, blood draws are only permitted in limited circumstances (without consent), such as where there was an accident involving great bodily injury or death. In Florida DUI cases, defense attorneys are sometimes able to argue that blood results are invalid and should be suppressed for a variety of issues, including: the use of an alcohol swab to clean the skin before the blood is drawn (as discussed above); testing blood serum as opposed to a whole blood sample; the ingestion of certain prescriptions, medicines, vitamins and foods that could affect the blood results; fermentation in the sample vial; an insufficient sample amount due to blood coagulation; blood vial mix ups; and blood vial contamination.
A Palm Beach DUI lawyer can investigate these potential defenses when someone has been charged with a driving under the influence charge involving a blood draw.
Casey Reiter is an associate attorney at Stuart R. Manoff & Associates, P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida, practicing in the areas of Criminal Defense and Marital Law.