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How Do Urine Tests Work in a DUI Investigation?

What is the Urine Tests?

In the state of Ohio, a urine test is a way for law enforcement to confirm the intake of alcohol or drug substances. Tests like a breathalyzer, urine, or blood tests can be refused by a person, but in the state of Ohio a refusal can result in a driver’s license suspension and depending on the circumstances or previous record (say a person has a previous DUI/OVI on his or her record), an arrest can be made.

Are Urine Tests More Or Less Accurate than Other DUI Tests?

Urine tests are considered more accurate than a breathalyzer test and are preferred when building evidence against the drunk driver. To get to the urine test phase there are steps of the legal procedure that law enforcement must take to require such a test. When Ohio police perform a stop of a driver for any reason, there must be reasonable suspicion to stop that vehicle. Reasonable suspicion can be anything from broken tail light to a failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign. For a drunk driver to be stopped, reasonable suspicion is developed by swerving or erratic driving. Once a police officer stops a car for swerving or erratic driving, the cop will then question the driver to determine the next steps. Typically, if drunk driving is suspected the cop will ask the individual to step out of the vehicle to perform what’s called “field sobriety tests.” These tests include walking a straight line, simple verbal conversation, and reciting the alphabet backward. Reasonable suspicion is still the only requirement for this action. A driver can either refuse or voluntarily follow the police officer’s demands. If a driver fails these tests, the officer can then perform an arrest and request a breathalyzer test. This is because the officer wants to collect direct rather than circumstantial evidence, which is all the officer would have at this point.

A driver has the right to refuse to take a breathalyzer test; however, Ohio law permits an officer to revoke a driver’s license on the spot if a breathalyzer test is refused or failed. At this point, an arrest is likely, and the police officer will want to build up the direct evidence against the drunk driver. To do this a urine test will be requested. A urine test is considered the second most commonly used test when detecting which substances are in a person’s system. Where a breathalyzer only detects alcohol usage, a urine test detects more accurate readings of alcohol and drug intake levels; however, the procedure to obtain a urine test is very different than with a breathalyzer and not always the most efficient.  Unless you waive your rights to providing a urine sample, a warrant would be the correct procedure for law enforcement to follow to obtain a urine sample. In addition, urine tests are viewed as the least reliable and as a result many states no longer perform them.

What Are The Rules Associated with a Urine Test in a DUI Investigation?

If a urine test is conducted, it’s important that you know the rules and proper procedure that law enforcement must follow. Ohio law states that a urine test must be conducted within three hours of operating a vehicle. This means that the urine test should be done within three hours of arrest. The Department of Health also has many regulations pertaining to urine tests. These regulations include:

  1. the methods used to collect urine samples;
  2. the handling of collected urine (was not collected within three hours of vehicle operation);
  3. the transporting of collected urine (was not sealed correctly or didn’t contain a label);
  4. the testing methods used by laboratories (laboratories were found to be operating out of regulated protocol); and
  5. the storage of collected urine (was not contained in a refrigerated environment at all times).

Contact The Farrish Law Firm

A DUI/OVI attorney will review all the protocols followed, whether the sample was obtained legally, and determine if there was even a need for the test in the first place. Call now and let’s set up some time to discuss your concerns and needs to beat your DUI/OVI case today.