As I have discussed on previous posts, the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) is no longer using breathalyzers during DUI arrests. While this may change when they finally get an approved program, for now, their other options are urinalysis or blood testing to determine a driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Blood testing is basically never used unless the driver is in the hospital being treated for injuries. The reason for this is that DC law requires the blood to be drawn by licensed medical professionals such as a physician or registered nurse, and the police just don't have the resources. For that reason, urine testing is the method used in the district by every police agency except the US Capitol Police, who still have a breath-testing program. In case you are used to TV crime shows like CSI or NCIS where they get the results almost instantly, in real life, it takes around 90 days from the time of your arrest to get urine test results back.
The delay in getting results compared to a breathalyzer is not the only difference when it comes to urine testing and DUI charges. Washington, DC criminal defense lawyers who handle drunk driving cases must understand and be able to explain to the client what the results mean in order to challenge them in court. First of all, urine test results are generally a lot higher than breath test results. While there is not a direct scientific conversion chart readily available, the law in the District considers a 0.32 urine BAC the same as a 0.25 breathalyzer BAC. The reason these two numbers have such significance is that a conviction at these respective levels requires a minimum mandatory 10 days in jail which cannot be waived or suspended. However, it may be possible to fight the charges by challenging the urine test results.
One factor that is important to realize is that there is not constant volume of blood to urine in the human bladder. According to research, it can vary as much as 30 percent. This makes getting an exact number such as 0.32 more difficult. There is also the possibility of urine test equipment operator errors that lead to reasonable doubt in court. The lab uses equipment such as gas chromatography mass spectroscopy machines that must be properly calibrated and used to get an accurate and precise result. This is not always the case. Your Washington, DC DUI defense lawyer can cross-examine the lab technician in court about how the equipment was maintained and how the test was performed.