DUI and Prescription Drugs
DUI and Prescription Drugs
In Florida, police officers may pull a driver over and request specific testing if they suspect the driver is under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
In certain DUI cases, the arresting officer will request a urine sample instead of, or in addition to submitting to a breath test. When the driver takes the initial breath test and blows under the legal limit of 0.08, the officer can ask for more testing if he or she has reason to believe the person is in fact under the influence.
While the breathalyzer is a common tool to measure whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol, a police officer may request a urine test to determine whether the defendant is guilty of drugged driving.
When the arresting officer suspects that the impairment is caused by a chemical or controlled substance, a urine test may be used. The urine test results are generally viewed as less accurate than blood tests in measuring chemicals or controlled substances in the body. Additionally, urine tests are not an accurate way of measuring alcohol in the system. Nevertheless, law enforcement agencies may use urine tests instead of blood tests because they are generally easier to obtain and far less expensive.
This page will cover the basics of urine testing in a DUI case, along with the penalties that arise if you refuse a urine test or submit and fail a urine test in Florida.
Tallahassee DUI Urine Test Defense Attorneys
Chemical test results can have a huge impact on the penalties in a DUI case. In many cases, DUI testing is the strongest evidence used against the driver. If you have been charged with a DUI and a urine test was used, contact a skilled Tallahassee DUI defense attorney at Pumphrey Law Firm. Your defense attorney may be able to effectively challenge the results of the urine test at trial, or have the evidence thrown out entirely.
The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have years of experience representing clients in DUI urine test cases throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding areas, including Quincy, Crawfordville, Monticello, Woodville and Bristol. Call (850) 681-7777 to discuss how an attorney can help you fight the results of a urine chemical test.
Information About DUI Urine Tests
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When is a Urine Test Requested After a DUI Arrest in Florida?
Law enforcement officers may request a urine sample when the driver submits to a breath test and the reading is less than the legal limit of .08, or when there is probable cause to suspect the driver is impaired by chemicals or controlled substances.
Before requesting a urine test, the officer should read the implied consent warning concerning a urine test. Refusing a urine sample, even after the driver has submitted a breath test, may constitute as a refusal to submit to a chemical test. In those cases, the officer often will complete an Affidavit of Refusal to Submit to Breath, Urine or Blood Test form.
In other cases where narcotic impairment is suspected, if the agency has a certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) available, then a Drug Influence Evaluation may be completed. In those cases a urine test will be requested during the Drug Influence Evaluation.
Urine Test vs. Blood Test
When police suspect a driver is committing a DUI offense, they may request either a blood or urine test to determine the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) or for the presence of drugs in their system.
In general, blood tests are requested when the officer suspects the driver is under the influence of alcohol or a combination of alcohol and controlled substances. On the other hand, urine tests may be requested when the officer suspects the driver is under the influence of drugs, such as prescription medications or illicit drugs. In some cases, a police officer may even request both tests.
The Florida Supreme Court explained it best when it said: “the goals of the breath and blood tests are different from the goals of urine testing. Breath and blood tests detect alcohol content, whereas urine tests detect controlled substances.” State v. Bodden, 877 So. 2d 680, 689 (Fla. 2004).
Requirements for Urine Testing in DUI Cases
In State v. Linaje (Miami-Dade, 2007), the court created a two-part test for a police officer to lawfully request a urine test from a suspected DUI driver:
- The defendant was arrested for an offense committed while they were under the influence of a controlled substance which impaired normal faculties; and
- Police officer(s) had reasonable suspicion, based on specific articulable facts, to believe the defendant was under the influence of controlled substances to the extent that their normal faculties seemed impaired.
In Linaje, the court excluded the results of the urine test because the officer did not observe any signs of impairment by a controlled substance and testified that he suspected the defendant to be impaired by alcohol only.
This case helps to show that police officers can request a urine test from a defendant they believe is under the influence of chemical or controlled substances. If an officer requests a urine test without reasonable cause, then the urinalysis can be suppressed as evidence.
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Issues with Urine Testing in DUI Cases
There are several issues when it comes to urine testing. When it comes to measuring the BAC level, it is viewed as the least reliable testing method. There is also the concern for human error—law enforcement agencies in North Florida can make mistakes when administering the urine test. Proper urine testing requires the subject to be allowed to completely empty the bladder and wait an additional 20 minutes before submitting the sample to be analyzed.
Because urine tests involve looking at concentrations in water instead of blood, the result can be highly inflated. They often are less accurate than DUI blood tests. The concentration of alcohol in the urine sample is approximately 1.33 times the concentration of alcohol in the blood sample. Furthermore, the presence of drugs in the urine does little to provide information about when the drugs were consumed.
Often, the results of the urine test are not relevant unless they can show, to a high degree of certainty, that the presence of drugs in the urine sample proves the driver was under the influence of those drugs at the time of driving. The presence of drugs in the urine does not mean the driver was impaired at the time he or she was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle.
Furthermore, urine testing does not actually measure the presence of drugs, but only certain “metabolites” that would be expected to be present if the subject had injected drugs at some point prior to testing. Metabolites are inactive trace chemicals left over after the drug is broken down in the system. The most common controlled substances found in the urine include THC and prescription medications.
The State’s Burden of Proof
During a suspected DUI-drug case, the Prosecutor bears a high burden. The state must first prove that the defendant took an illicit drug or medication. They must also be able to prove that the driver was under the influence while operating the vehicle. This means the State will likely rely on the evidence gathered by police during the initial arrest.
In addition to any notes the law enforcement officers took during the arrest—which includes the driver’s appearance, speech, ability to walk, and the way they operated their vehicle—prosecutors will rely on the evidence from the urinalysis following the DUI arrest.
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Urine Test and Marijuana under Florida Law
Considering that marijuana is one of the most used controlled substances in Florida, it is not surprising that marijuana metabolites (also known as THC) are the substances most commonly found during a urine test. However, the urine test is not an accurate or reliable way of determining whether the driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time when he or she was driving. Unfortunately, drivers can still face drugged driving charges.
In many cases, marijuana metabolites can remain in the urine for several weeks after the last time marijuana was consumed. This means a person could test positive for traces of marijuana, but not be impaired. If you were subjected to a urine test after a DUI arrest, then contact an experienced attorney to discuss your defense.
This is due to a urine test detecting cannabinoids for more than two weeks after consumption for a person who occasionally uses marijuana. For a person who uses marijuana more regularly, the urine test can detect cannabinoids for up to a month. Given the uncertainty with the urine testing, it can be difficult to try and prosecute a driver for drugged driving with marijuana.
If you were subjected to a urine test after a DUI arrest, then contact an experienced attorney to discuss your defense.
What Happens if I Refuse a Urine Test?
If a driver refuses to submit a blood or urine test, they could face additional penalties from the initial DUI penalties.
Florida’s implied consent law, codified under Statute Section 316.1932, states that Florida drivers must submit to chemical testing for any suspected DUI by law enforcement. If you refuse to submit to any type of DUI testing, it can lead to an administrative license suspension for up to one year.
In addition, section 1(a)1.a. states that the refusal to submit a urine test upon the request of a law enforcement officer is admissible into evidence in any criminal proceeding. Admissible evidence is defined as evidence that may be presented before the judge or jury for them to consider in deciding the case.
DUI Charges for Urinalysis Failure
If you have submitted to a urine test and failed, it is important to have a full understanding of Florida’s penalties for a DUI offense. Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, the defendant may face the following consequences for a first-time DUI offense:
- Up to six months in jail;
- Fines between $500 and $1,000
- Up to 12 months of probation;
- Possible vehicle impoundment for up to 10 days;
- Completion of DUI School;
- Possible ignition interlock device (IID) installation.
In addition, submitting and failing a DUI could result in a license suspension for up to six months.
Given the harsh penalties for a DUI, it is imperative that you speak with a legal representative if you are facing charges of driving under the influence.
Finding an Experienced Tallahassee DUI Urine Test Attorney
If you or a loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence in Florida, it is in your case’s best interest to reach out to a defense attorney in your area. The penalties for a DUI conviction are extensive and can leave you without a car or license for an extended period. If you were requested to take a urine test you believe was unlawful, a defense attorney can help in suppressing the evidence.
If your Tallahassee DUI charge involves the testing of a urine sample, contact a lawyer at Pumphrey Law Firm. Don Pumphrey and his team are experienced in fighting to exclude any mention of the urine test at trial, and they will work towards getting your charges lessened or dismissed. Contact our office today and receive a risk-free evaluation regarding your case.
Call (850) 681-7777 to schedule a free case consultation.
Page last updated May 10, 2023