Breath, blood, and urine tests are not always reliable indicators as to whether or not someone was legally intoxicated.
Depending on the specifics of your case, there may be good reasons to question the results of a chemical DUI test. At the Law Offices of Andrew C. Janecki, I understand the procedures police and hospital staff are supposed to follow when administering a DUI chemical test. I identify departures from proper protocols and other factors that can inflate blood alcohol content (BAC) or result in false-positive readings.
Before you plead guilty to a charge of drunk driving, contact Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney Andrew C. Janecki today to learn how I can help you challenge the DUI charge against you.
Most police departments use the Alco-Sensor IV for measuring BAC through a breath test. Like other breathalyzers, the Alco-Sensor IV uses Widmark's equation and a partition ratio to measure the amount of alcohol in a person's blood. There are a number of issues forensic experts have raised in regard to how breathalyzers work when using Widmark's equation and an assumed partition ratio: Is alcohol being absorbed or metabolized? Was air brought up from deep within the lungs or higher up in the bronchial tubes? Was a suspect observed 15 minutes prior to being given a breath test?
Here, breathalyzer results may not reflect the BAC of a suspect at the time he or she was driving, especially if he or she was forced to wait for a period of time while his or her body was in the process of absorbing alcohol. Additionally, if the breathalyzer used was improperly calibrated or wasn't checked as required by its maintenance schedule, the results may not be dependable.
While blood tests are more accurate than breathalyzer testing, there are still a number of factors that can compromise the reliability of the results. In order to collect a blood sample, a suspect must be taken to a person licensed to draw blood — typically, a health care worker in a hospital. As in other chemical DUI tests, a blood sample must be taken within three hours of an arrest; otherwise, the state cannot suspend your license. If proper procedures are not followed, the blood sample may not be admissible in court. For instance, did the nurse wipe your arm with alcohol before drawing your blood? If vacuum tubes were used, were they expired? Did the "salting out" agent artificially inflate results? Was enough potassium oxalate present to prevent clotting?
More importantly, whether a hospital measured whole blood, serum or plasma is essential as well. Put simply, whole blood includes cellular material in addition to liquid. Serum and plasma involve centrifuging a blood sample in order to separate cellular material from the liquid. Consequently, if blood serum or plasma is measured, the BAC level may be artificially inflated because alcohol naturally tends toward liquid.
Urine tests are the least accurate DUI test because water can remain in a person's system over a longer period of time. As a result, the alcohol present in a person's urine may not accurately reflect whether he or she was legally intoxicated while he or she was driving. However, a urine test can detect the presence of drugs in a person's system because it can detect metabolites.
Consequently, even if you used marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or ecstasy a few days or weeks ago, it can be detected in your urine. If you test positive for an illegal drug, you can be arrested on drug charges even though you were not arrested for drunk driving.
A DUI is a serious matter in the state of California. However, breathalyzer testing, blood tests and urine tests are not always reliable. I understand what problems to look for and understand what needs to be done to have your case dismissed before it even reaches trial.
If you're embarrassed about your DUI and don't want to go through the stress and anxiety of a trial, I may be able to have the charges against you dismissed if there are reasons to believe the breathalyzer testing, blood test or urine test used was not conducted properly. To learn how I can help you, contact Santa Cruz, California, DUI defense lawyer Andrew Janecki today.