Scientific & Legal Defenses to a DUI Charge

The legal limit in Michigan is .08, but there are several scientific and legal defenses to a drunk driving charge. Government ad campaigns and slogans such as, "Over the Limit, Under Arrest," coupled with a misguided faith in the legal system result in many wrongful convictions. Unwittingly, innocent people accept plea agreements every day based upon faulty chemical tests. In other instances, guilty people plead guilty when legal defenses could have been successfully raised. The vast majority of DUI cases go unchallenged.

Machines, as well as police officers, make mistakes. A person accused of operating while intoxicated should never be overwhelmed by misgivings and doubt just because the government's machine claims that the driver was above the legal limit. Likewise, a guilty person should never assume that the police officer's case is rock solid. Police officers who make mistakes typically acknowledge those mistakes, and simple human error can result in a dismissal.

Urine Testing

Advantages: There are really very few advantages to urine testing. Diabetics and people who suffer from hemophilia or other conditions that require blood clotting medicines do not consent to blood testing as a matter of law, even though they may be asked to submit to a breath or urine test. Since a breath test cannot measure the presence or absence of a controlled substance, urine testing may be the only acceptable alternative.

Disadvantages: Urine testing is wildly inaccurate, and urine tests are almost never used in Michigan drunk driving cases. In the last decade and a half, our firm has only had one urine test case.

Urine testing is obviously very personal. "The procedures for collecting the necessary samples, which require [a person] to perform an excretory function traditionally shielded by great privacy, raise concerns" according to the US Supreme Court in 1989. These concerns appear to have been diminished during the last two decades as probation departments and employers do not hesitate to make people pee on command.

No one apparently knows how to properly perform a urine test. While medical personnel routinely draw blood samples in connection with drunk driving cases, these people are rarely asked to collect a urine sample. Typically, due to the lack of familiarity with the process, medical personnel do follow the required procedure for collecting and handling the urine samples.

Urine testing does not accurately reflect alcohol levels. Rather than testing the blood coursing through a person's veins or the breath that the person is breathing, a urine test reveals something that occurred in the past. It does not reflect the alcohol still in the blood. After a night of drinking, a person might wake up with no alcohol in his or her blood, but a urine test would reveal what their alcohol levels were from the night before. Clearly, this is not reliable evidence for legal purposes.

Urine testing does not accurately reflect controlled substances. While a blood sample might be used to determine the amount of active drugs in a person's body, these levels drop off rapidly within a number of hours. THC, the active drug in marijuana, will be found in the blood for upwards of 12 hours generally. (In certain cases, however, active THC can be found in the blood for many days according to one study.) Urine testing for THC by comparison will result in a positive test results for days, weeks, and sometimes even months after the drug was ingested.

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