August 2013 Forensic Chromatography Class PictureWhen someone gets arrested for drunk driving in Metro Detroit an alcohol test will be given. The arresting officer will decide whether it’s going to be a breath test or a blood test. Several factors will play into that decision such as accidents, preexisting medical conditions, or just time and convenience. In the event of a refusal to submit to the test the officer will seek a warrant to force a blood test. Most of the time they will be successful in getting that warrant. Therefore blood alcohol tests are frequent in DUI OWI cases in Michigan.  They are necessary for DUI OWI drug and marijuana THC cases.

The Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division (MSP-FSD) tests and measures all blood samples for alcohol and drugs in Michigan. They use an instrument called a gas chromatograph (GC). In order to effectively defend a DUI OWI blood alcohol or drug THC case an attorney must have specialized training and knowledge in the science and methodology behind this type of blood alcohol and drug testing. The simple fact is that most criminal defense attorneys don’t have any training as it relates to blood alcohol testing. They are forced to accept any result as true and base their legal advice upon the number that is reported. They believe these tests are always accurate and cannot effectively be challenged. What test is always accurate? None.

The only way to have the knowledge to defend blood alcohol and THC DUI OWI cases is to understand the testing process, perform hands on training in a lab with the same equipment, instruments and methods. This hands-on training is offered, only twice per year, by Axion Laboratories in Chicago, Illinois and is taught by Dr. Lee Polite and his mentor, one of the pioneers of the science of gas chromatography, Dr. Harold McNair who built one of the first known GC’s in 1957. Today the GC is the most widely used analytical chemistry tool used in the world.

In August of 2013 Barton Morris was the third attorney from Michigan, and the only one in Metro Detroit, to complete the Axion Laboratories Hands On Forensic GC Course.  I was blown away by the experience and what I learned.

The science behind blood alcohol measurements can be difficult to understand and the methods used to accomplish this task intimidates most people including attorneys, judges and juries. When most “drunk driving” attorneys see a blood alcohol or toxicology report they believe it must be accurate and that it cannot be effectively challenged. When a blood test is involved, most attorneys think the only option is to plead guilty. As I have known for a long time and has been confirmed, explained and demonstrated to me at Axion Labs, blood alcohol testing is subjective and subject to several sources of error. Not only am I more aware of these errors, I understand them, have now made them myself and, most importantly, can find them in my client’s cases and explain them to judges, prosecutors and juries.

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Axion Labs in Chicago is the place to learn GC. We were given forty hours of instruction and laboratory work. This consisted of lectures from extremely experienced GC people including one of the pioneers of GC, Dr. Harold McNair who built one of the first GCs in 1957.  We learned GC theoretical principles behind the Accompanying the lectures were actual hands on work with actual GCs in their lab. I actually performed GC maintenance, unknown sample preparation, instrument calibration and blood alcohol measurement. I went through a run of blood alcohol sample analysis very similar to what the Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division does when testing every blood sample for alcohol in every DUI case in Michigan. It was amazing. These instruments cost about $100,000 each. I don’t know of another place where an attorney can get this type of experience and I am one of only three attorneys in Michigan who have done it and the only one in Metro Detroit.

GC is also the instrument that Michigan tests blood for marijuana (THC) and other drugs of abuse in drug related driving offenses DUID. In DUID cases a mass spectrometer (MS) is used and we learned how to use a MS at Axion Labs too. An MS will add an additional $75,000.00 to the cost of the entire system. The MS “smashes” apart and weighs the THC molecules after the GC has separated them from the blood. Once smashed the molecules can then be accurately identified and measured by the MS. Before that analysis can be made the “smashed molecules” pattern, or a “spectra”, are compared to a spectra library of known compounds for identification. Guess what? This comparison is also subjective and subject to error. Also, the MS must be calibrated more often to provide an accurate analysis of the identification and amount of the drug. A review of the calibration reports called “tune reports” is also necessary to properly evaluate a blood drug test and can only be effectively done by an experienced and trained person, like I have at Axion Labs.

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If you or someone you care about does not want to plea guilty and wants a strong DUI OWI defense with a blood alcohol or marijuana THC test in the Oakland, Wayne or Macomb County cities of Royal Oak, Troy, Detroit, Warren, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Berkley, Sterling Heights, or any surrounding community call Attorney Barton Morris at (248) 541-2600 for a well educated and aggressive defense.