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Reliability of DUI/DWI Tests

If you are arrested for suspicion of DUI/DWI, you are obligated to undergo a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine at a police station or local hospital. If you refuse, you will incur stiff penalties, including suspension of your driver's license and a longer sentence if convicted.

Chemical tests are generally reliable but not infallible. For example, police station breathalyzers may be thrown off by alcohol-containing substances in the mouth, such as breath fresheners and mouthwashes. Low-carb diets produce acetone on the breath, which may be identified as alcohol. Even a burp before blowing into the machine may cause a false-high reading.

Urine test are the least reliable of the three chemical tests. It takes longer for alcohol to be metabolized by the body and appear in a person's urine, generally 60-90 minutes. Because of this, a person may be required to give two urine samples - first sample given; bladder voided; wait 20 minutes; give a second sample. This purges the older urine, with the "fresher" urine utilized for a truer reading. Metabolism and hydration levels can impact urine-test reliability as well.

A blood test is the most accurate, but most invasive, method of determining blood-alcohol concentration. Alcohol enters the bloodstream in a matter of minutes and can give a real-time assessment of blood-alcohol content. However, improperly handled blood samples may coagulate or decompose, resulting in false-high readings. Chain-of-command and clerical errors may come into play, since blood may need to be transferred at various points in the process.

A DUI/DWI arrest is a serious matter. Contact the Law Office of William J. Luse (843-839-4795) to protect your rights!


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