DUI Blood Tests
DUI BLOOD TESTS – LAS VEGAS DUI LAWYER
While popular belief is that the results of a blood alcohol content or “BAC” test can be damaging in DUI cases, the reality is that’s not always true. In many cases, DUI blood test results are inaccurate or inconclusive, leading to the conviction of innocent defendants. On top of that, the Nevada DMV can revoke or suspend your license for BAC blood test results even if you’re never convicted. For all of these reasons, it’s super important to have a skilled and highly competent attorney representing you if you’re facing DUI charges.
Simply put, the results of your BAC blood test can be pivotal when seeking to maintain your driving privileges or obtain reduced or dismissed charges in a DUI case. If you’ve been charged with a DUI offense in Nevada (based on the results of a DUI/drugs blood test), it’s in your best interest to consult with a proven DUI attorney as soon as possible.
In addition to license suspension/revocation, a DUI conviction in Nevada can lead to the following penalties or worse:
- Mandatory jail time (depending on the charge and DUI history, possible prison time)
- $400 – $5,000 in fines
- Attendance at DUI School and a Victim Impact Panel
- Potential installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle
- A criminal record that could restrict where you can live, employment, and your reputation
At The Vegas Lawyers (TVL), we’ve handled thousands of cases. There are few firms in Las Vegas with our experience and insight into DUI cases. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (702) 707-7000.
What Is The DUI Level In Nevada?
Like the rest of the country, the legal blood alcohol concentration for Nevada drivers over 21 is .08 percent. Commercial vehicle drivers are held to stricter standards. Their BAC must not exceed .04 percent. Similarly, drivers under the age of 21 can’t have a BAC higher than .02.
If a police officer pulls you over and you exceed the allowed BAC levels for your status via a breath test or blood draw, you’ll be arrested. There is no way to get out of it. The best thing you can do at that point is to be courteous, follow directions, refrain from incriminating yourself, and contact a proven Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as you can.
This question comes up quite often. You have the right to refuse a DUI evidentiary blood test in Nevada. However, if you refuse a DUI blood test, the arresting officer can obtain a warrant authorizing him or her to use reasonable force (i.e., physical restraint) to obtain a DUI blood test from you against your will.
Refusing to take a DUI blood test (or any other chemical test) can result in long-term consequences, including up to a 3-year license suspension. Additionally, refusing a chemical test when suspected of driving under the influence may lead the prosecution to inform the court of your refusal (if you go to trial). In that case, per Nevada Revised Statute 484C.240, the court may consider your refusal an admission of guilt.
Do the police need a warrant to draw blood? Not necessarily. If you agree to a DUI blood test, there’s no need for a warrant. However, if you refuse, law enforcement must seek a warrant before forcefully obtaining your blood and submitting it for testing. Otherwise, the police are in violation of the law and your DUI blood test results may be inadmissible at trial.
What Does A DUI Blood Test Check For?
Usually, DUI blood tests check for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. In other words, how much alcohol is there in your system. However, they can also detect other substances like:
- Prescription medication and non-prescribed meds
A commonly cited problem with DUI blood draws is they can’t accurately show precisely when a person was under the influence of substances found in their blood. While tests are generally reliable, it’s possible drugs stayed in your system after you were no longer “under the influence” and capable of safely operating a vehicle. Again, this highlights the importance of having a skilled and experienced attorney representing you that can raise the right challenges.
The DUI blood test procedure includes more than just the arresting officer taking blood from you. When you get arrested for a DUI in Nevada, the DUI blood test process includes:
- The arresting officer taking you into custody (jail or another booking area)
- Receipt of your consent for a blood draw OR the issuance of a warrant for a forcible blood draw from you
- Administration of the evidentiary DUI blood test
The DUI blood test can be administered by a physician, registered nurse, licensed physician assistant, emergency medical tech, phlebotomist, or another qualified medical professional.
How long do police blood tests take? The exact length of time it takes to receive the results of a DUI chemical test depends on various factors. Generally, it can take a couple of weeks to many months to receive official blood test results. Las Vegas is a city where DUIs occur with frequency. As a result, there is often a significant backlog in the testing of DUIs due to the volume of cases.
Generally, if your blood test results show BAC levels exceeding the limit set by Nevada laws, your license will be suspended. However, not immediately. If you opted for a DUI blood draw instead of a breath test, your license can’t be suspended until your blood test results are produced by the police laboratory. As mentioned in the previous section, that can sometimes take a significant amount of time.
To the contrary, defendants face immediate license suspension for failed DUI breath tests and refused DUI evidentiary tests. If your blood test results show that you’ve surpassed the BAC limit (0.08 or higher), you’ll receive a notice of license suspension via the mail soon after law enforcement confirms the result.
Under recently passed legislation (Assembly Amendment No. 206 to Assembly Bill No. 427. Sec 14), anyone convicted of DUI in Nevada faces a mandatory minimum license suspension of 185-days. Previously, it was only 90 days. The length of time you can expect a license revocation depends on your DUI history and the charge.
- First-time DUI – Minimum 185-day license suspension
- Second-time DUI – Minimum 365-day license suspension
- Felony DUI – Minimum 3-year license suspension
Depending on the circumstances of your DUI case, you may be eligible for a restricted license. Generally, individuals facing a suspended license for a DUI in Nevada can apply for a restricted license under the following terms:
- First-time DUI Offenders – After the first 90 days of their 185-day license suspension
- Second-time DUI Offenders – Unrestricted license unavailable for entirety of suspension
- Felony DUI Offenders – After the first 365 days of their 3-year license suspension
A restricted license allows you to drive your vehicle to approved locations for reasons like work, education, medical necessity, groceries, or court-ordered child visitation. That means that driving for recreational or non-approved purposes could lead to an extended license suspension and a revocation of your restricted license.
It’s important to note that, unlike the court, the DMV can suspend or revoke your driver’s license based on the results of your DUI blood draw, breath test, or urine sample alone. That means that you could face a DMV license suspension for exceeding the BAC limit even if you’re never convicted for illegal BAC levels. For that reason alone, it’s essential to consult with a proven criminal defense lawyer before your DMV hearing.
Suppose you’ve been subjected to a DUI blood draw by law enforcement, but you don’t believe the results are accurate. In that case, you have the right to request an independent BAC test. When the police administer a DUI blood draw, they must extract more blood than needed, just in case, the defendant requests an independent blood test.
Generally, it’s in your best interest for you or your DUI lawyer to request an independent BAC test. Sometimes, the independent blood test (DUI) results can prove that your blood samples were mishandled, inaccurate, or otherwise not reliable. However, it’s important to note that you must pay for an independent BAC test out-of-pocket.
If you’ve been charged with a Nevada DUI, the initial results of your blood test are not always ironclad. Working with an experienced attorney can help you uncover instances of blood sample mishandling and inaccuracies.
How Accurate Are DUI Blood Tests?
Generally, blood tests are more reliable and accurate than breath tests. However, as mentioned above, mistakes can be made during the testing, with the equipment, or via mishandled blood samples.
Also, your BAC fluctuates after drinking. It takes a while for your body to absorb alcohol and for it to dissipate from your blood. This is sometimes called the “rising-blood-alcohol” defense.
Meaning, your BAC was below the legal limit at the time of your arrest, and it climbed higher by the time the blood draw was conducted. This defense strategy is not particularly effective in Nevada unless there are other factors present.
DUI blood tests are not always accurate or conducted within the regulations of Nevada law. In many cases, an experienced attorney can poke holes in the prosecution’s strategy with a solid DUI blood test defense strategy. A few of the most common DUI defenses used in Nevada include, but are not limited to the following:
- Lack of Warrant – Suppose you decline a blood test, but the police use force to obtain blood samples (without a warrant). In that case, the results of your blood draw may be inadmissible in court.
- Mistakes Handling The Samples – Sometimes, the medical professional mishandles blood samples. Common examples of mishandled blood samples include cross-contamination, neglecting to store the sample at appropriate temperatures, or otherwise improper sample storage.
- Broken Chain of Custody – Occurs when an unauthorized or unknown party handles the blood sample. Blood samples that end up in the wrong hands can lead to cross-contamination, sample switching, or worse.
- Broken Equipment – Blood samples tested with broken, unmaintained, or otherwise malfunctioning equipment can lead to inaccurate results. A detail-oriented attorney will investigate possible signs of broken equipment and raise the appropriate DUI defenses.
- Rising Blood Alcohol – A person is guilty of DUI in Nevada if they operate a motor vehicle with a BAC level above 0.08%. However, if a DUI blood test isn’t administered in a timely fashion, it could provide inaccurate results based on intoxication levels 1 – 2 hours post-arrest, instead of your BAC at the time you were operating a vehicle. Mounting a “rising blood alcohol” DUI blood test defense can be complicated, especially without the help of an experienced attorney.
- Improperly Sterilized Blood Draw Site – Sometimes, the phlebotomist or medical professional drawing blood samples uses an alcohol-based sterilization product on the draw site. In that case, the blood test results could inaccurately produce high BAC test results.
- Police Error – Procedural mistakes made by law enforcement could lead to reduced or dismissed DUI charges in Nevada. Common DUI defenses citing police errors include neglecting to observe the defendant before administering the blood test, not mirandizing a defendant, and countless other errors.
- Fermented Blood – In rare cases, collected blood samples ferment before they can be tested. Fermentation can lead to the blood sample producing additional alcohol to the original sample. Fermented blood is more likely to occur in cases involving understaffed blood testing facilities or those with a significant backlog.
- Unqualified Test Administrator – The person conducting the DUI blood draw must meet Nevada standards and qualifications for drawing blood samples. That means that an uncertified laboratory technician (even if their certification recently lapsed) could lead to dropped or dismissed charges.
- Medical Conditions – Certain medical conditions or treatments for medical conditions can result in blood test results that mimic the effects of high BAC levels. In some cases, proving inaccurate blood draw results based on medical conditions requires an expert witness and concrete evidence of the existing condition.
- Illegal Police Stop – Nevada law enforcement officials are not allowed to stop cars at random. They must have a legal reason for the initial stop. Otherwise, the evidence they collect through observation and DUI chemical tests may be inadmissible in court or at least encourage the prosecutor to offer a favorable plea deal to the defense.
The DUI blood test defense strategies mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending upon the circumstances, there are countless other DUI defenses an experienced lawyer can make on your behalf. If your DUI blood test defense lawyer can show even the slightest proof of weak evidence, the prosecution is more likely to agree to reduced or dismissed charges without going to trial.
For the most part, law enforcement officials are reluctant to use a BAC urine test in DUI cases. That’s because DUI urine tests are often inaccurate and unreliable compared to DUI blood or breath tests. However, in rare cases, law enforcement officials opt to conduct a BAC urine test when they are unable to test the defendant’s blood or breath. Further, the police sometimes use BAC urine tests to find additional drugs in a person’s system.
Are you interested in learning the answers to your DUI-related questions like:
- Was my arrest legal?
- How can I get DUI charges dismissed in Nevada?
- How long does blood alcohol test take to get back?
- What DUI defenses are relevant to my case?
- How can I obtain a restricted license after a DUI conviction?
- What happens if I refuse a DUI blood test?
- What should I do if the police violated my rights during a DUI arrest?
Contact a proven Las Vegas DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to answer case-specific questions.
What If My DUI Blood Test Comes Back Negative?
If your DUI blood test comes back negative, you will not face DUI charges. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could still be charged with reckless driving or another offense. For this reason, working with a competent Las Vegas DUI lawyer is imperative to ensure you receive the fewest consequences possible.
Are you facing misdemeanor or felony DUI charges in Nevada? A conviction could lead to jail time, fines, a permanent criminal record, and more. With that in mind, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Las Vegas DUI defense lawyer soon after you’ve been charged. Finding an affordable DUI lawyer is essential. However, finding a lawyer who knows how to win is much more important.
Our DUI attorneys offer the perfect balance of affordability, experience, and a successful track record. Contact The Vegas Lawyers today at (702) 707-7000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our talented attorneys.