A urine test is usually done if drug use is suspected, and not just alcohol
Urine testing does not reflect a measure of your blood alcohol content (BAC) because alcohol is one of the substances that is broken down by your liver instead of your kidneys.
However, a urine test is one of the most common methods of testing your for the presence of drugs, with simple dip-stick tests commonly available for screening tests for cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, marijuana (THC), methadone and other opiates (narcotics), phencyclidine (PCP), barbiturates, benzodiazepines and tricyclic anti-depressants.
These tests are as easy as you urinating in a cup, and the officer then placing the test strip in your urine for one to three minutes. If the strip changes to the right color, your urine is considered a positive test for that class of drugs. Once again, this is merely a “presumptive” (or screening) test that needs to be confirmed by GC-MS.
If quantitative analysis of either drugs or alcohol is being used by the prosecutor, get a DUI expert witness to assist in refuting the results
Quantitative analysis means the prosecution is attempting to demonstrate the exact level of the prohibited substance in your blood rather than just the presence or absence. This type of analysis is not uncommon for alcohol, to determine if the level of alcohol in your system is at or above a certain level, (0.08 for adults or 0.02 grams for drivers under age 21 [in most states], depending on your age and circumstances), it is a crime in and by itself. This is the “per se” alcohol DUI-DWI charge.
However, there can be times when a specific level of marijuana or barbiturates, or any other drug may be important to the State in its prosecution. An example might be if you admit to having smoked marijuana a week ago, but none since. While you may have a positive screening urine or blood test, the prosecution must typically also prove that you were under the influence of these drugs while you were driving for you to be liable for a DUI-DWI charge.
That being the case, the prosecution may try to prove that your blood or urine level was high enough or sufficient to demonstrate to a judge or jury that your defense of not being impaired cannot or should not be believed. To do this, the prosecution will want to perform one of these quantitative analyses on your sample, and then present the results at your trial.
Because these tests have inherent problems, an expert on your side may be able to attack the accuracy of the results. If the results cannot be considered accurate, then this may lead to them either being thrown out, or to them being discounted by the jury. An expert witness may be the difference between you winning or losing.
Pooling is always a problem with urine testing
Urine pooling means that your body is always making urine in your kidneys, then delivering that fluid to your bladder. Depending on how much you make, how big your bladder is, and how often you decide to do so socially, you empty your bladder anywhere from a couple times a day, to many times. Between these times, your urine is pooling in your bladder, waiting to be peed out.
If you haven’t urinated for ten to twelve hours prior to being tested, and you had used some of those drugs in the recent past, the urine sample that is tested will have drug residue in it, even if those drugs were not affecting your mind or your reactions while you were driving. Of course, to use this defense against a DUI-DWI charge, you may have to admit to the use of the drug. Depending on the drug and whether or not it was prescribed for you, having this prohibited drug in your system could also be a crime.
Urine will reveal low levels of contraband drugs longer than a blood test
Your kidneys slowly and constantly remove the breakdown and waste products of most chemical substances from your body. Because your kidneys concentrate these waste products from your bloodstream, the residue of any drugs is detectable in your urine for much longer than in your blood.
Depending on how critically the State wants to analyze a urine sample from you, drugs you may have taken months ago may cause your urine test to be positive. If all the police do is dip a test strip into your urine (the most common form of drug testing which can be done anywhere), illegal drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics and barbiturates may all be detected in your urine sample for weeks after you were exposed to the drugs.
If the police send the urine sample off for a more critical analysis to a crime lab, even more minute amounts of these drugs can be detected for months after your exposure.
More DUI Drugs Resources
If you’d like to learn more about DUI for drugs, take a look at some of our comprehensive articles on the subject below:
- DUI Illegal Drugs
- DUI Prescription Drugs
- Common Over-The-Counter Drugs In DUI / DWI / OUI / OWI Cases
To learn more about DUI tests, read through some of these informative articles on the subject:
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