The Austin Police Department in Austin, Texas has decided that driving under the influence has caused far too many accidents and deaths and it is time to bring it to a stop. Doing so however has proven not to be an easy task as many police departments across the nation have tried to do the same. Instead of performing breath exams to determine an individual’s alcohol intake, the Austin Police Department is partnering with a company named Protouch in order to have phlebotomists drive to the scene and take the driver’s blood in order to have some kind of proof of the conviction the day of trial.
In the rare case that a phlebotomist was not available to drive to the scene as quickly as needed, paramedics are then called on the scene and the driver is taken to the hospital in order to have their blood drawn by the phlebotomists there.
A Breathalyzer or analysis of breath gas can only detect an undetermined value for blood alcohol levels and bases its findings in the amount of alcohol exhaled in the breath, not the amount of alcohol in the blood. Also, alcohol containing substances such as mouthwash, gum, or even vomit and regurgitation that took place 20 minutes before the test could result in falsely high readings. Not only is there a chance of uncertainty with the device’s results, but there is also always the possibility of the device malfunctioning. In order to ensure accuracy, the Breathalyzer should be calibrated frequently with air containing a controlled amount of alcohol in order to guarantee correct readings. Because this involves so much inaccuracy, police officers can detain an influenced driver until they hold two, three or sometimes even four breath tests.
Blood exams on the other hand, is the most accurate way to measure the amount of alcohol in an individual’s blood stream. More often than not, a blood exam is performed by the Austin Police Department for exactly the same reason; there is no chance for false readings with a blood exam. However, police officers are not trained to draw blood and are therefore forced to obtain the help and assistance from trained phlebotomy specialists. As a matter of fact, even paramedics were not allowed to be called onto the scenes of such cases and draw blood samples until lawmakers decided to change this in 2013. Now, the APD can rely on the help of speedy paramedics to get a faster result and a more firm foundation for a successful trial.