Policeman administering breathalizerThis is my second post in my series on defending against DUI and DWI cases in Phoenix, Arizona. My last post provided an overview of topics this series will be addressing and stressed the need to contact an attorney immediately after being arrested. Having counsel can make a difference in the outcome of your case. In this post I will address the ways you can challenge the chemical tests taken at the time you dealt with police.

Arizona has an “implied consent law.” That means that in order to drive a car in the state, you give consent to a blood, breath, or urine test if you are suspected of driving under the influence. If you refuse to take a test the state will suspend your driver’s license for a year, regardless of the outcome of any charges. Some officers carry a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device in their patrol cars and you may be asked to blow into this machine. This is not a chemical test. You may insist on an ePAS (a more precise machine), a blood test, or a urine test. Generally, if you complied you will be subjected to an evidentiary test later, probably at the police station.

Phoenix, Arizona residents may challenge breath test results in DUI cases

The PAS and ePAS machines have very specific protocol for their results to be entered as evidence in court. The maintenance logs must be in order and the rules for administrating the tests must be followed fairly closely. The officer should read you specific instructions and ask you a list of questions including whether you vomited, belched, or had alcohol within the last 20 minutes. The officer should also inquire about any medical conditions. Then he or she will instruct you to blow into the machine. It requires a great deal of air to register and an incomplete breath is an incomplete test.

The officer should wait a period of several minutes and administer a second test for verification and confirmation. The report from your arrest will include a serial number for the specific machine used in your test and your lawyer can request the maintenance logs on that specific machine. Your attorney can also request information on the officer’s training in regard to DUI/DWI investigations. This will take time. So that things progress in your case it is important that Phoenix, Arizona residents hire a DUI/DWI defense attorney as soon as they are arrested.

Arizona residents may challenge blood and urine tests in DUI cases

Often in DUI/DWI cases police prefer blood or urine analysis due to the rising prosecution of drug related cases. If you gave a blood or urine at the time of your arrest, your lawyer will want a detailed account of what happened on the day of your arrest and the specific circumstances involved in the actual test. Blood draws need to be conducted by a licensed phlebotomist who must follow specific protocol. These steps include non-alcohol sterilization of the area (e.g., your arm) in preparation for the draw, placement into a labeled and sealed test tube prepared with an anticoagulant material to prevent fermentation. The test tube should then be re-sealed to prevent contamination.

Your lawyer will gather information related to the phlebotomist, the procedure used in the draw and your particular health issues to determine if there may be an evidentiary challenge to the blood draw. Similarly, your attorney will inquire into the laboratory that handled the sample, the chain-of-custody, maintenance records and qualifications of the scientists. You may want to obtain a portion of the sample and hire your own lab to re-test the sample. Many of the same issues apply to urine tests. These determinations are very fact specific and it is imperative that you speak with counsel.

I am a Phoenix DUI attorney who also handles matters in other Maricopa County cities such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert. We also assist Pima County residents in Tucson.