DUI Blood Tests

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DUI Blood Tests in Las Vegas

Why are DUI blood tests necessary?

In recent years, Nevada has experienced a jump in DUI crashes and fatalities. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a study conducted over a three-year period saw 334 substance-involved (i.e., alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, etc.) fatal crashes resulting in 360 deaths.

While Las Vegas is known as a “party town,” it has also become increasingly unsafe for drivers. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Nevada Highway patrol have stepped up their efforts to discourage driving under the influence, but the problem persists. That’s especially true of Clark County.

With this in mind, if you decide to get behind the wheel of your car after a few drinks, you’re more likely to get pulled over by law enforcement officials than ever before. For the sake of your well-being, the safety of other drivers on the road, and your freedom, the best decision is to book a ridesharing service or wait until you’ve completely sobered up before driving.  

Doing otherwise can leave you in a precarious situation. If the police suspect you of driving under the influence, they’re more likely to request you take a breath test. However, a DUI blood draw may be necessary for certain situations.

If you’ve recently tested above .08 via DUI blood draw, there are potential defenses to your charge. It’s in your best interest to contact an experienced Las Vegas DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

At The Vegas Lawyers, our lawyers and paralegals are compassionate, savvy, and experienced. We know what we’re doing and can help you receive the least amount of penalties possible when charged with a DUI. We handle DUI cases in Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Boulder City, Searchlight, Mesquite, Laughlin, Goodsprings, and Pahrump.

What is the DUI Level in Nevada?

Like the rest of the country, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) 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 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.

What Does a DUI Blood Test Check For?

Usually, DUI blood tests check for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. However, they can also detect other substances like:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamines
  • Opiates
  • 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.

When Can I Expect A DUI Blood Test?

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Nevada Highway Patrol can request you take a blood draw if they suspect you’re driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

However, if it’s your first offense, they’re more likely to give you the option of taking a breath test or blood draw. Sometimes, a positive breath test is easier to defend, but a blood test can be more advantageous to defendants in some instances. DUI blood tests are typically more accurate than breath tests. 

If it’s your second or greater DUI charge within the last seven years, police officers usually don’t give a choice. They will likely require you to submit to a blood draw. Refusing a blood draw or breath test in Nevada can lead to serious penalties in addition to a forcible blood draw.

Can The Police Force Me to Take a Blood Test?

Yes. The police can force you to take a blood test. Under “implied consent” laws, drivers permit law enforcement officers to administer a breath or blood test to determine BAC levels by virtue of having a license.  Remember, driving is a privilege and not a right.   

Nevada laws allow police to use “reasonable force” if you refuse a blood test, but they must have a warrant.  In many cases, a refusal can make it more challenging to defend yourself against DUI charges.

What if I Refuse a DUI Blood Test?

Decreasing DUI accidents, injuries, and fatalities are a matter of public safety, so prosecutors pursue DUI charges to the fullest extent. Taking this into account, defendants who refuse a DUI blood test are less likely to get a favorable plea offer. Prosecutors will also use the refusal against the accused as evidence of guilt.

While a DUI blood test refusal is usually not good for your overall DUI case, it’s not sufficient evidence to prove guilt. However, if your test comes back showing your BAC was above .08, it can make it challenging to receive a lenient punishment from the court.  The District Attorney will also be less inclined to offer any favorable “deal.”   

If you refuse a DUI blood test, your license will be automatically suspended for one to three years. The suspension will remain in place even if your charges are decreased or dismissed. The only way to have your license reinstated before the suspension ends is via a DMV hearing.

Who Can Perform a Blood Draw?

Police officers can’t perform a blood draw. Nevada law requires DUI blood tests to be administered by a licensed professional like a physician, physician’s assistant (PA), emergency medical technician, or Phlebotomist.

The professional who draws your blood must adhere to strict procedural guidelines to ensure the test is as accurate as possible. If they don’t, the presented evidence will be considered questionable and unreliable.

Can I Choose an Independent Lab To Analyze My Blood Test?

Yes.  However, you’ll be responsible for all costs associated with your blood samples being  independently retested by a qualified lab of your choosing.  In our experience at The Vegas Lawyers, this is rarely worth doing since the accuracy of blood tests is nearly perfect.  On the other hand, breath tests are much less reliable and worth challenging.   

What if My DUI Blood Test Comes Back Negative?

For the most part, if your DUI blood test comes back negative, you will likely 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.

How Can My Blood Test Result Be Used Against Me?

When interacting with law enforcement, everything you say, do, or don’t do can be held against you in court. The same goes for blood test results. If your test comes back with a result of .08 BAC or higher, the prosecution can use this evidence to pursue tough charges with consequences such as longer jail time, higher fines, etc. Also, if your BAC is determined to be above 0.18, you may face more severe penalties.

How Long Does it Take to Get Results of DUI Blood Test?

Unlike a breath test or urine sample, it can take weeks and/or months to receive DUI blood test results. Once you’re released from custody, you’ll usually receive a summons to appear in court as well as a complaint.

The time between your arrest and first hearing should be used to consult with a reputable DUI lawyer. This gives them enough time to conduct a thorough investigation and interview witnesses if necessary.

What Happens If I’m Convicted of a DUI?

DUI convictions incur severe penalties that can affect you for years to come. Generally, first-time DUI offenses are treated as misdemeanors. However, the level of your charge and potential penalties depend on previous DUI convictions, your BAC levels, whether you caused an accident, if a fatality occurred, and many other factors.

First time DUI offenses (within seven years) can lead to the following:

  • Misdemeanor charges
  • Mandatory jail time (48 hours to six months)
  • Fines of $400 – $1,000
  • Mandatory DUI school and Victim Impact Panel
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for 1 – 3 years (if BAC above .18)
  • License suspension of 185 days or more (if BAC above .18)

Keep in mind, the penalties mentioned above are only for a first time DUI conviction. Second and third-time convictions incur more severe consequences, including felony charges, longer jail sentences, higher fines, and longer license suspensions. 

In some cases, defendants can avoid DUI misdemeanor convictions by completing Misdemeanor DUI Court, a rigorous rehab program designed for first and second-time offenders. 

Potential Defenses to DUI Charges in Las Vegas

Positive DUI blood tests can be challenging to overcome, but not impossible. Many factors can invalidate blood test results or lead to decreased/dismissed charges, such as:

  • Blood draws or tests conducted by an unlicensed or uncertified person
  • Blood testing equipment that’s damaged or not well-maintained
  • Incorrect storage of blood samples
  • Sterilization of the site of the blood draw with alcohol
  • Improper traffic stops
  • Law enforcement mistakes
  • Faulty equipment

An experienced DUI lawyer can mount a strong legal defense to potentially weaken the prosecution’s evidence and increase the likelihood of a dismissal, decreased charges, or lessened penalties.

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.

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Contact The Vegas Lawyers Today – We’re Here For You

DUI charges carry the potential of serious consequences that can negatively affect you and your family’s life for years. If you’ve recently been charged with a DUI in Las Vegas or anywhere in southern Nevada, don’t gamble with your future.

The DUI attorneys at The Vegas Lawyers are here to help, whether you’re a tourist or full-time resident. Mistakes happen; it’s what you do afterward that makes the difference.

Our lawyers have developed a reputation for being the best DUI lawyers in Las Vegas because we care about our clients.

If you’ve recently been arrested and taken a DUI blood test in Las Vegas or the surrounding areas, we’re here to help. Contact The Vegas Lawyers or give us a call at (702) 707-7000 for your free and confidential consultation today.

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