As a DUI defense attorney, I have been in many crime labs, and I’ve yet to see one that looks anything like those portrayed on TV. Unlike ‘CSI’, the local crime lab is not 40,000 square feet separated by glass walls. Frankly, it would be bad science to build labs that way.
However, it’s not only the appearance that is different — the procedures within them differ. On any given CSI TV show, a blood sample is gently put on a slide, placed in a computer, and within minutes a picture of the person whose blood it is comes up on a giant computer screen along with his or her address, and a list of known associates and friends. This is pure, and rather silly, fiction.
Real crime labs more closely resemble that famous scene from ‘I Love Lucy’ with Lucille Ball in the chocolate factory. In local crime labs, more than one hundred blood samples are tested at a time by underpaid and overworked technicians. The tests are conducted in conveyor-belt setups that test large quantities at once, instead of the slow and precise scientific action depicted on cable.
Part of the job of a good Arizona DUI defense attorney is to break down the cultural fiction and explain to a jury the cold hard facts of reality.