California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez charged with DUI
The drunk driving trial of Roger Hernandez continues with a defense expert saying the blood sample taken from Hernandez may have been compromised by shaking.
An independent forensic toxicologist testified Wednesday that a phlebotomist mishandled the blood sample taken from state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez after the West Covina Democrat was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Concord.
David Lewis, the second witness for the defense at Hernandez’s misdemeanor drunken driving trial, said the phlebotomist who drew Hernandez’s blood at the Concord police station March 27 shook the sample in defiance of the instructions given by the manufacturer of the blood-drawing kit.
Hernandez’s blood-alcohol level tested .08, the minimum level for drunken driving in California. Lewis, a former chief toxicologist for several Northern California counties, testified that the shaking action compromised the integrity of Hernandez’s blood sample.
“That .08 is not a .08 in my opinion,” Lewis said. “If you are on the cusp, like a .08, you must be very concerned with accuracy.”
The shaking caused hemolysis, or a breakdown of the whole blood cells into plasma, which can cause a wide range of error in testing, Lewis said.
The prosecution plans to call its own forensic toxicologist to rebut Lewis’ testimony.
This is the second week of testimony in the trial of the California Assembly’s incoming majority whip, who was driving a state-issued car to a Concord hotel when he was pulled over shortly after 2 a.m.
Hernandez was traveling with a date, a Kaiser Permanente government relations manager who was not called to the witness stand by the prosecution but could still be summoned by defense attorney Peter Johnson.
Well, this case may come down to battling expert forensic toxicologists or maybe the fact that Hernandez failed three field sobriety tests may be enough.
The facts of the case and the testimony, plus credibility of the witnesses will be judged by the jury.
But, the fact remains, the California Assemblyman will not be helped at the polls, no matter what the verdict.