Hidden Dangers of D.C.’s New DUI Statute: Specimen Shenanigans

Updated on September 14th, 2015 at 08:41 pm

Generally, Bruckheim & Patel (LOMB) advises drivers detained on suspicion of driving while intoxicated NOT to submit to breathalyzer, blood, or urine tests. By submitting to chemical tests, you subject yourself to the risk of mandatory jail time, and you give prosecutors more evidence to use against you at trial.

If this is your first DUI offense, the risks of refusing the chemical tests are less severe: your D.C. driver’s license (or your privilege to drive in D.C.) may be revoked for 12 months. But this revocation is not necessarily final, and the LOMB can help you maintain your driving privileges. Specifically, the LOMB could contest your license revocation and suspension by showing that the law enforcement officer did not have reasonable grounds to believe you were intoxicated while driving, or that the officer did not properly inform you of the consequences of your refusal to submit to chemical tests.

In other words, if you refuse chemical tests, the government will have to work harder to prove its case against you, and you can still fight your license revocation.

If you do submit to chemical testing of your blood, breath, or urine, you should be aware of a hidden danger contained in the District of Columbia’s new DUI statute. Specifically, although only two “specimens for chemical testing” may be collected from you and submitted as evidence, a single specimen may consist of multiple breaths into a breath test instrument. In other words, a police officer may ask you to repeatedly blow into a breathalyzer machine until he or she is satisfied that your breath test is “valid.” The other two types of specimens are urine samples, and blood samples (so long as the blood is drawn by a medical professional acting at the request of a law enforcement officer).

In other words, after your arrest, don’t think you can fool the breathalyzer by breathing in a certain way—the officer can require you to keep blowing until he or she is satisfied with the breathalyzer result. Alternately, the officer may elect to skip the breath test, and have your urine and blood samples taken instead.

But if you didn’t know all this, and provided blood, urine, or breath evidence anyway, all is not lost. The LOMB is proud of its experience in challenging the results of chemical tests. To discuss the process of challenging improper or faulty chemical evidence in court, call Michael Bruckheim at 240-753-8222.

About Bruckheim & Patel

As a former Prosecutor, Michael Bruckheim has experience on the other side of the aisle. Prior to founding his law office in 2010, Mr. Bruckheim enjoyed a diverse career in litigation at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG) serving for over 11 years. He began his OAG career as a prosecutor in the Criminal Section where he conducted numerous bench and jury trials in traffic and criminal misdemeanor matters. Mr. Bruckheim was promoted and served as Chief of the Criminal Section at the OAG where he supervised the prosecution of DUI offenses in the District and directed a staff of over 20 attorneys.

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