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Are DUI tests always accurate?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2017 | Blood Alcohol Tests

If you are pulled over and it is suspected that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be given a field sobriety test or subjected to several different types of testing to determine if you should be driving or not. It may start with a field sobriety test, and, if that is inconclusive, move on to a breath, urine or blood test. While law enforcement officers often use these tests to decide if you should be charged with DUI, there are times where the test may not provide the accurate results needed to prove a case against an individual.

In most states, those who fail to pass the field sobriety test and are arrested for driving under the influence must give a sample of blood, urine or breath, and the alleged perpetrator can choose which sample to give. These are usually taken once the individual arrives at the police station after the field sobriety test is complete, which can include basic tests like walking in a straight line, repeating the alphabet backward or following a flashlight with the eyes. Every state has its own penalties and limits when it comes to blood alcohol content and underage drinking, and South Carolina is no different.

Blood samples

This is the most accurate way to determine if a driver is incapacitated and should not be driving. The chemistry procedures used to determine the blood alcohol content are straightforward and foolproof, but if a sample has been mishandled or stored improperly, the results may come back incorrect. If the lab doesn’t follow proper organizational or recordkeeping procedures, then there may also be a mistake on a blood test.

Urine tests

Urine tests are usually used when a blood or breath test is not available because they aren’t as accurate as the others. If an individual drinks an abundance of alcohol and doesn’t urinate before being tested, the results may be misleadingly high. Typically, a second sample is taken after the first urination to get a more accurate reading, although correlating the urine and the blood alcohol content can be complicated.

Breath tests

Breath tests don’t determine how much alcohol is in the blood, but rather the content in the breath. An average figure is used, and respiration rate and body temperature can affect the results of the test. If the individual has had any substances that contain alcohol, such as certain medications, the breath tests may be incorrectly high.

While breath, urine and blood tests are a good starting point for building a case against a potential offender, they aren’t always foolproof. Anyone accused of DUI may benefit from consulting an attorney to determine if their tests are correct.

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