With the rise in DUI drug charges in recent years, breathalyzers no longer serve law enforcement the way they once did. Officials have turned increasingly to urine testing as a way to determine the possible drug use and impairment of DUI suspects. Like the breathalyzer, this method is far from foolproof and results are by no means definitive. A urine test that returns a positive result for drugs is not the final word on the matter--it is not the nail in the coffin of your DUI. Rest assured an aggressive, experienced Georgia DUI attorney is equipped with a toolbox of legal strategies to dispute the credibility of a Georgia DUI urine test. They need not completely disprove the validity of the result. They need only to raise some doubt in the minds of jurors that the result might be incorrect. Urine tests are often conducted in conjunction with blood tests, but neither is 100% reliable in determining your degree of alleged impairment. If you were asked to take a urine test after your Georgia DUI arrest, you are urged to immediately contact a Georgia DUI attorney who can begin scrutinizing these results and tailoring a defense befitting of your case.
DUI Urine Tests In Georgia
Georgia law holds that any driver, no matter the circumstances, has already given their consent to have their blood, breath, or urine tested the moment they get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. By stepping into the driver's seat, the law presumes that you are sober and have consented to provide evidence to that effect, if prompted. This is called the doctrine of implied consent, and when you are suspected of DUI a Georgia police will read you an 'implied consent card,' which more or less explains this provision. Because it exists, there are automatic penalties if you refuse to comply. Your license will be administratively suspended (administrative meaning this penalty is separate from any criminal penalties incurred as a result of your DUI charges).
This is explained in the implied consent card. You are read the card at the police station if an officer has taken you in on "suspicion of DUI." They will emphasize the fact that you will lose your license for a period of time should you refuse; but if you comply, there is strong chance you are going to arm the prosecution with the evidence needed to convict you of DUI. This means you are about to make a very important decision and don't even know it. There is a certain contradiction inherent to this process: law enforcement officials believe you are impaired, too impaired to operate a vehicle, but expect you to listen to a complex legal statement of your rights and make a snap decision about your best interest and future. If they don't believe you are coherent enough to safely operate a vehicle, why are you considered coherent enough to make this judgment call?
If you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs in your particular DUI case, then the police will more than likely ask you for a urine sample. Georgia has taken steps to certify some of their officers as "Drug Recognition Experts," a certification that is tenuous at best. There is a whole manner of drugs with variant effects on the human body, and different dosages affect individuals differently as well. At best it is difficult, at worst impossible, to certify someone as an expert in something so complex, subjective and rife with nuance. Without the aid of breathalyzer to immediately inform an officer that you are under the influence of alcohol, they must draw their own conclusion based on so-called "cues" that you are impaired with drugs, then conduct a urine test--the results of which may not even be an accurate indicator of your actual degree of impairment, assuming you were impaired at all. Urine tests can detect the presence of illegal or prescription drugs in the body, but that does not necessarily indicate impairment. A drug taken at an earlier time may show up in urine, although it had no impairing effects on the driver at the time of their arrest and testing. There is simply too much room for inaccuracy and the results can paint a skewed picture of the real events. For example, although law enforcement does not typically rely on urine tests to determine alcohol impairment, a urine test for alcohol will on average yield a result that is 1.33 times greater than the amount of alcohol actually in the suspect's blood. Marijuana, a chief drug of concern in suspected drug DUIs, can stay in the system for a great deal of time even after its effects have long since worn off.
False Positives in DUI Urine Tests in Georgia
There are also a number of substances that can cause false positives in DUI urine tests. This includes certain legal prescription drugs, such as:
- nonprescription nasal inhalers
In addition to raising the question of false positives, your Georgia DUI attorney can also challenge the urine sample's chain of custody. As a sample changes hands between lab techs and law enforcement, its whereabouts and the conditions in which it is kept must be meticulously kept track of. If there is even a short window of time where its whereabouts went unlogged, your attorney could challenge the validity of the result. During the time the sample was unaccounted for, there is no telling how it may have been tampered with or possibly improperly handled.
Georgia DUI Attorney
Even if the police have positive urine test evidence against, a skilled Georgia DUI attorney may still be able to dispute these results. Do not hesitate to immediately contact Richard Lawson for a free consultation of your charges.