DUI Blood, Breath, and Urine Tests Can Be Inaccurate

In Florida, it is illegal under statutory law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the point where one's normal faculties are impaired.You could be charged with a DUI — the penalties of which can be severe — in the event that law enforcement identifies you as having been driving while impaired and under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Florida drivers will be found guilty of a DUI if they were driving (or in physical control of the vehicle) and were under the influence of alcoholic beverages, certain listed chemical substances, or controlled substances such that:

a)the driver's normal faculties were observably impaired;

b)the driver's blood-alcohol level was 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood; or

c)the driver's breath-alcohol level was 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

A law enforcement officer need not give you a blood, breath, or urine test in order to arrest and charge you for a DUI — the law enforcement officer need only observe that your normal faculties are impaired, perhaps by administering a field sobriety test — but blood, breath, or urine tests are preferred on the basis that they are somewhat more accurate and less prone to user error.

Though DUI chemical tests such as blood, breath (breathalyzer), and urine tests tend to be more accurate than field sobriety tests (i.e., the walk the line test, the eye tracking test, etc.), there are still significant issues with the blood, breath, and urine tests administered by law enforcement officers.

If you have been charged with a DUI on the basis of your blood, breath, or urine test results, you may be able to challenge the DUI charge by showing that the test results were inaccurate. Avoiding a DUI charge requires skillful advocacy, however, so make sure to consult with an experienced Key West DUI lawyer as soon as possible after the inciting incident.

In what ways are DUI blood, breath, and urine tests inaccurate? Let's take a brief look at some of the accuracy issues associated with each test.

Blood Test

Blood tests tend to only be administered in DUI situations where someone has died or suffered a serious injury. Law enforcement officers do not administer blood tests — the test will be administered in a lab, ambulance, clinic, or hospital. Issues that could lead to inaccurate test results include:

•Failure to properly sterilize testing equipment

•Refrigeration issues

•Mistakes during administration of test

•Blood fermentation after it has been drawn

•Cleaning skin with an alcohol wipe prior to test administration

•Diet of the tested driver

•Testing sample contamination

•And more.

Breath Test

Breath testing is perhaps the most common tool that law enforcement officers in Florida use for measuring a driver's blood-alcohol content. Breathalyzers are useful in that they provide officers with a portable, instantaneous testing apparatus, but they suffer from several accuracy problems that include:

•Acid reflux disease, ulcers, diabetes, and other illnesses and conditions that can lead to high breath alcohol levels

•Breath mint use and mouthwash use

•Dental issues affecting breath

•Diet of the tested driver

•Failure to properly calibrate the breathalyzer

•And more.

Urine Test

The urine test is less commonly used than either the breath or blood test, as it is seen as less accurate than the alternatives. Issues that could lead to inaccurate test results include:

•Alcohol remaining in the urine sample from up to 24 hours prior to the accident

•Urine results vary significantly from actual blood-alcohol content

•Fermentation of the urine sample

•Dilution or substitution of the urine sample

•Laboratory errors, including failure to properly sterilize equipment

•And more.

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