California DUI laws: Urine tests no longer an option for DUI (drugs)

On behalf of The Law Offices of Michael L. Davidson posted in DUI on Thursday, December 20, 2012.

Starting on January 1, 2013, individuals pulled over for driving under the influence of drugs will no longer have the option to choose a urine chemical test over a blood or breath test. Urine tests will only be available in cases where blood tests are not available or where the defendant is on an anticoagulant.

Prior to the passage of the bill — AB 2020 (Pan) — if you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, you could choose to submit to either a blood or urine test. The legislature determined, however, that blood tests, though slightly more expensive, are more effective than urine tests and are challenged less frequently in court.

Types of DUI tests

Besides urine tests, there are three types of tests that individuals accused of DUI may undergo:

Field sobriety tests: Field sobriety tests are physical and cognitive tests that help officers determine sobriety before a chemical test. They can include the one-leg stand, walk and turn or horizontal gaze nystagmus test. Field sobriety tests tend to be very subjective and are often disputable in court.

Breath tests: Known more commonly as “breathalyzer tests,” breath tests analyze the blood alcohol content in someone’s breath vapor. These tests are required under law (by obtaining a driving license you agree to undergo a breath test should you be suspected of drunk driving). Even though they are more accurate than field sobriety tests, breath tests may be inaccurate or used improperly.

Blood tests: Blood tests are more reliable than breath and field sobriety tests and are frequently used to determine if someone has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yet, even blood tests are not always accurate and may show a .08 percent BAC at the time of the test when the BAC at the time of driving was legal.

As you can see, even though defendants will no longer be able to choose urine tests, it is still possible to challenge other DUI tests. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can discuss the options with you.

Source: Fox40, “New year, new laws going into effect,” Cecilio Padilla, Dec. 18, 2012

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The Law Offices of Michael L. Davidson
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San Mateo, CA 94402

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San Mateo Law Office