As a DUI Lawyer for the past 21 years I am asked many questions by my clients. Among the most common is why does it take so long for a blood test result to come back? The answer is the blood vial in a DUI arrest is not tested at the hospital, jail or clinic where the blood was collected.
The blood sample is sent to a forensic laboratory where the testing is done. In Los Angeles County, including Torrance, the blood or urine sample is sent to the Sherriff's LASD County Crime Lab in Downey where it is tested among other samples submitted. In Kern County the vials are tested by the District Attorney Crime Lab in Downtown Bakersfield. The process of getting the vial from the arresting agency to the lab involves transportation and preservation issues unique to the state evidentiary and regulatory rules. Once at the lab there is a system of identification, sampling, testing and retesting that takes days if not weeks to accomplish due to the backlog of criminal laboratories and lack of sufficient funding.
Obviously, other tests for crimes such as rape, murder, and other serious felonies are given priority. Although the blood testing for Drunk Driving cases are typically done within 2 weeks, the official reports which include a review by a senior toxicologist, will usually delay the reporting time to about 30-45 days. In drug cases the reporting time can be longer since the specific drug needs to be tested twice, once for qualitative results, ie. Is the drug present within the sample? Then again quantitatively, ie. What is the actual concentration of the drug?
The delay in the reporting of the results vary but you must remember that in a misdemeanour DUI prosecution the District Attorney has a full year to file charges. In a felony case the DA has 3 years or sometimes more. Therefore, if there is no result of the blood or urine then the prosecution and Court will usually ask for another Court Date.
Once the result of the state's test is reported it is possible to have the blood or urine retested by a private independent lab. This process can again take 30-60 days or longer and can cost upwards of several hundred to thousands of dollars or more depending upon the type of testing requested.