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Understanding DUI/DWI Arrests in California and Urine Tests

Have you been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or another chemical substance in California? If so, chances are slim that you were asked to provide a urine sample. Not all jurisdictions allow it, but many do. There are many questions about this type of chemical testing in suspected drunk driving and drugged driving cases, and we are here to help you understand it.

At Compass Legal Group, APC, our DUI/DWI defense attorney in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties represents clients who have been charged with drunk driving or drugged driving offenses. Here, we discuss what urine tests are and provide the information you need to understand how this type of chemical test could impact your DUI/DWI case. Contact us at (805) 852-5141 to schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation and to learn more.

When Are Urine Tests Used in DUI/DWI Cases in California?

When police investigate alcohol- or drug-related criminal activity, in some circumstances, a driver may be required to submit to a urine test. Typically, a urine sample is taken in the presence of a police officer.

The urine test can detect metabolites within an individual's blood to determine if an individual was under the influence of a drug, but they do not detect the presence of a specific drug. Because urine samples provide less reliable evidence than breath and blood tests, they are rarely used, and some jurisdictions may not allow them.

In jurisdictions where this test is allowed, they are used primarily in two situations:

  1. A medical condition prevents a person from providing a breath or blood sample; ;or
  2. Blood or breath tests are not available for some reason.

Where the blood and breath tests are unavailable, it often means the technician, for whatever reason, is unavailable.

Urine test results can be used as evidence for both drunk driving and drugged driving-related offenses. The good news is this: the results are weaker and less reliable; therefore, they are more vulnerable to challenges.

Can You Refuse a Urine Test in California?

Like breath and blood tests, you can refuse to submit to a urine test. But also like breath and blood test refusals, there may be consequences. The police officer must advise you that a refusal can lead to consequences. Failure of the police to do so means you can challenge any consequences you face. Speaking to a Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties DUI/DWI defense attorney is in your best interest so that you know what your legal options are in any given scenario.

What Constitutes a Urine Test Refusal?

Knowing what constitutes a urine test refusal is important, but it is also murky. Some jurisdictions allow you to request a different chemical test -- but only once. So, if you request a breath test, that does not (or should not) constitute a refusal.

Keep in mind also that police can be manipulative. If you say you "can't go" or otherwise have a problem providing a urine sample, the police may say you refused.

Possible Consequences of Urine Test Refusal

If you refuse a urine sample for whatever reason, you could risk:

  • The police requesting a warrant to obtain a blood sample
  • The state automatically suspending your driver's license
  • The state imposing significant fines for the refusal

The above consequences are administrative penalties, so they are imposed even if you are not charged and subsequently convicted of any DUI/DWI offense.

If you are convicted of a drugged driving or drunk driving offense in California, you can face additional fines, license suspension, and/or jail time as a result of the urine test refusal.

Problems with Urine Tests in California

Urine tests are commonly believed to be the most unreliable of the three chemical tests used by the police.

Typical problems with urine tests include:

  • Inability to provide exact type of drug
  • Inability to provide exact amount of drug
  • Cannot determine when a drug was consumed (could have been a week ago or an hour ago)
  • Substantially providing a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) much higher than it is

Also, like breath and blood tests, urine samples and urine tests must be handled and conducted in accordance with strict regulations. Failure to comply with these regulations or any type of tampering or mishandling of the sample can compromise the integrity of the test results.

Contact Our DUI/DWI Defense Attorney in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties Today

Urine tests are widely known to have many issues and are especially unreliable in DUI/DWI investigations. Fortunately, the process and results of a urine test can be challenged before, during, and even after a trial, depending on the facts and circumstances.

At Compass Legal Group, APC, our DUI/DWI defense attorney will challenge the integrity of a urine test's results. Proving unreliable test results or improper testing procedures could make the difference in establishing reasonable doubt. To learn more about how we can defend you against DUI/DWI charges, contact us by filling out the online form or calling us at (805) 852-5141 to schedule a Free 30-minute Consultation.

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