DuPage Prosecutors DUI Blood Test May be Unreliable

DuPage Prosecutors DUI Blood Test May be Unreliable

The results of DuPage County Prosecutor Jane Radostits’ postmortem alcohol results were 0.25, after her fatal crash. This consequence was reported to be ‘three times the legal limit’ of .08. This assumes that these results are scientifically reliable, when they are not necessarily so.

The problem is that blood alcohol tests performed on decedents are highly unreliable, because the human body creates its own ethanol from the after-death fermenting of natural sugars and yeasts that are no longer being cleansed by the liver.

Post-mortem ethanol production, according to aircraft crash investigation reports by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, is the consequence of bacterial action after death. The presence of ethanol depends on various factors, such as the condition of the tested specimen, the environmental conditions to which the tissues were exposed, and the time duration before the specimen was recovered. To confirm the conditions for this occurrence, testing was conducted on specimens from individuals who would not have been expected to have ingested alcohol because of age or cultural background. Of the six specimens tested, five tested positive for ethanol. Results of .20 to .30 were found in decomposing bodies where there was absolutely no evidence of alcohol consumption, according to Gary Kunsman, chief toxicologist with the Bexar County (Texas) medical examiner’s office. Microorganisms in the body, including yeast, can produce alcohol in body tissues after death. Bacteria in some areas of the body escape and can generate ethanol in the blood, brain, liver, and other tissues within a few hours of death.

In his paper “Pitfalls in Forensic Toxicology,” T. Richardson of the Toxicology Lab at England’s Manchester Royal Infirmary said that disruption of the body can enhance post-mortem alcohol production.

I am asking that this be reported, not to condone drinking and driving, and not to excuse such behaviors, but because I believe the actual alcohol level reported is both misleading and because the family and friends of Jane Radostits and the public at large deserve the complete truth.

Donald J. Ramsell

Past President

DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

128 S. County Farm Road

Wheaton IL 60187


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