Unlike in alcohol related DUI cases, a breathalyzer or breath test cannot accurately determine whether someone is under the influence of drugs. As a result, blood tests or urine tests (in some locations) are administered in DC DUID cases in order to prove that someone was under the influence and show what drug they may have consumed. With this in mind, the following is more information on chemical tests in drug DUI cases including information on their accuracy and whether you have the right to refuse. To learn more or discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation with a DC DUI lawyer today.
The accuracy of those tests depends on a few factors including:
First, we are going to talk about the urine test. What happens is that the urine test will look for the presence of a substance in your bladder. The problem is that you can hold urine in your bladder for many hours. So when you are talking about driving under the influence of drugs and the testing of urine, if there is a presence of a controlled substance in your urine, then it could have been there hours before you actually drove.
In order to get a closer approximation to the time of actual driving, the proper protocol would be to do what is called a two-draw test. The person who is taking the test would void their bladder [urinate] and then drink some water. This will create urine and then you have the urine sample that is given closer to the time you were allegedly driving. Otherwise, you are getting urine that could have been in the bladder for theoretically for 10 or 12 hours. That is one of the main problems with the accuracy of urine testing in the District of Columbia, which uses a blood draw system.
With blood tests, contamination can occur from the way the blood is drawn. As well, if the proper chemicals are not used in the tubes that store the blood, or if the machine that analyzes the blood is not properly calibrated, then it can slow the results. There can also be interpretation issues; you may see indicators in the test results that might at first glance appear to be a controlled substance but that could also be triggered by a legal substance that may look similar on the interpretation.
Authorities test for the presence of drugs using one of two methods. The first is a urine test, which occurs after a person is arrested. The second is a blood test, which can only be conducted if the officers take a defendant to the hospital and a licensed practitioner, such as a nurse, extracts the blood. The urine sample must then be tested by certified medical examiners in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Washington D.C.
You can refuse to submit to blood, urine, and breath testing. However, what will happen if you refuse is that first, you will automatically lose your driving privileges in the District of Columbia for one year and second, the government will attempt to use your refusal as what’s called evidence of consciousness of guilt at your trial. Those are the two biggest drawbacks of refusing to take chemical testing or undergo chemical testing.
Additionally, the prosecutors do not necessarily need to have urine or a blood test to prove somebody was under the influence of a particular drug. As an example, if officers approach a stopped car, ask the individual to put the window down and smell the chemical odor of PCP in the car and notice the person is exhibiting signs of PCP impairment, then that person can still be charged and convicted of driving under the influence of drugs – even if the driver declines to submit a urine or blood sample. However, the prosecutor will still need to prove that the symptoms exhibited by the defendant were actually consistent with drug impairment.
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