D.A. has plan for bad DUI cases

People convicted of DUI in Warren County in the last five years may have some good news coming their way.

The charges in many of the 784 DUI cases in the county from Oct. 30, 2008, through May will be amended or dropped.

In response to a situation in which blood alcohol contents tested and reported at Warren General Hospital used a different base-line than testing used in court, Warren County District Attorney Rob Greene issued a press release Tuesday announcing his plan to convert BACs moving forward and remedy BACs already on the books.

“From this date forward the BAC conversion from serum/plasma to whole blood; the Warren County District Attorney policy will be to convert using a ratio of 1.35,” Greene wrote.

That same conversion will be applied to all defendants whose BAC was determined by a blood test at Warren General Hospital “on or after Oct. 30, 2008,” Greene wrote. “If DUI blood test occurred at WGH… BAC/1.35 = True BAC.”

Defendants whose BAC was determined some other way or by any other organization, and those who refused to have their blood tested are not eligible for relief.

The conversion will have several possible effects. Some defendants’ charges will be reduced. Some will have their charges dismissed. And some will see no change.

For BACs at or above .22, there will be no change because the multiplier leaves BAC in the highest range – .16 or higher. BACs of .15 and .14 remain in the “high rate of alcohol” range at .11 and .10.

Those whose BACs were determined as “highest rate” between .16 and .21, inclusive, will have their charges reduced to “high rate.” Those whose BACs were in the range from .11 to .13 will drop from “high rate” to “general impairment.”

Those whose BACs showed them to be legally intoxicated in the range from .08 to .10 will have their DUI charges dismissed.

Greene said he expects all 784 cases will have been reviewed by the end of this week.

“At that time we should be able to quickly review how many cases will be directly impacted and the process of amending or dropping charges will begin,” he said.

There is no impact on public drunkenness and underage drinking charges, Greene said.

A letter was sent from Warren General Hospital to the district attorney’s office in 2008 saying the hospital had changed blood alcohol testing equipment. The new equipment tested the alcohol content of blood serum – the liquid portion – whereas the old equipment tested whole blood.

Testing serum gives Blood Alcohol Content up to 30 percent higher than testing whole blood, according to Greene, and the necessary calculation was not performed on blood tests from the hospital over a five-year period from October 2008 to May 2014.

Copies of that letter are on file at both the hospital and Warren County Courthouse.

Greene said he discovered the need for the conversion while observing a trial being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.