DUI Drug Breath Tests in DC

If you have been pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence in DC you will likely be administered a blood, breath, or urine test. If you have concerns regarding your tests or feel your rights may have been violated, a DC DUI drug lawyer will be able to help you fight your test results.

  • Breathalyzer Manipulation

Drug DUI and DC Law Enforcement

While DUI drug cases are not as common as DUI alcohol cases police can often consider them to be more dangerous depending on the type of drug. Schedule 1 drugs such as heroin, PCP, cocaine, the more serious drugs are considered so dangerous that an impaired driver with any of these drugs in their blood or their urine faces mandatory minimum levels of incarceration even if that person has never been arrested before. Even if someone is a first offender but gets arrested on the allegation that they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of them and submits to a urine or blood sample and that test comes back positive for some schedule 1 drug then that person can be required to face minimum levels of jail time even with no prior record.

Testing for Drug Impairment

Breathalyzer tests such as Intoxylizer or Alcotest only tests for the presence of ethanol which is the common drinking alcohol that most people consume. If a police officer suspects that someone may have been driving under the influence of a drug that is not detectable by a breathalyzer, which is any drug outside of ethanol then that officer can ask them to submit to a urine sample for testing or ask them to agree to be taken to a hospital for a blood draw.

On a blood test, normally the results come back in about 3-4 weeks. But on a urine test, it is not uncommon for test results to take 3-4 months to come back from the Medical Examiner’s office. Additionally, the tests are constantly being adjusted to test for different substances that could be impairing. As an example, there are constantly new synthetic drugs that were not initially tested by urine and blood screenings and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had to adjust the test in order to be able to test for new substances. There are still certain kinds of medications that the urine testing system and blood testing system may not detect but those tests are constantly changing.

Test Refusal

In most circumstances, a driver may refuse to submit to any tests, including a breath test, urine test or blood test. Under D.C. law, the only circumstance in which a person cannot refuse to submit to testing is when the driver been in an accident that resulted in a fatality. In that circumstance, the driver will be taken to a hospital and be required to submit to blood testing.

Accuracy of Tests

Blood testing is accurate in determining which drugs are present in a person’s bloodstream at the time that the blood is extracted. Urine testing is also accurate in determining if alcohol or drugs are present in the person’s urine at the time that the sample is collected.

However, where urine tests are inaccurate is determining if a person was under the influence of a substance at the time that the urine sample was collected. As an example, if a person is arrested and a urine sample is collected, then the urine sample will be tested for alcohol and drugs and any alcohol or drugs present in their urine at the time the sample is collected will show up on the urine test.

However, drugs consumed sometimes days or weeks ago that are no longer impairing your ability to drive may still be present in your urine. This can be very problematic for people who are charged with driving under the influence of a drug because that evidence is admissible in court, even though the urine test cannot actually prove that the drug was impairing their ability to drive at the time. Since the test accurately shows the drugs in your urine but not whether you were impaired, it becomes the obligation of the prosecutor to show not only that you had those drugs present in your system at the time, but that those substances were actually impairing your ability to drive at the time you were arrested.