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Urine Analysis

Police officers use multiple techniques to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. You’re probably familiar with both breathalyzers and field sobriety tests in association with OWI, but did you know that law enforcement also uses urine analysis to determine impairment level? It’s common for police officers to ask you to undergo urinalysis if they suspect you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving.

Urine tests may give a more reliable reading of what’s in the system, but not your current impairment level. Urinalysis detects multiple substances based on the number of terpenes in your body. It’s a well-known fact that some of these terpenes can remain in your system for days or even weeks depending on the circumstances. This means you could be charged with OWI because the urinalysis tested positive for a controlled substance you consumed days, weeks or months ago.

These facts are reason enough to gain legal representation if you’ve been charged for OWI by urine testing. An attorney can collect evidence, contradict the testing with expert testimony and prove to the jury why your results may have been skewed.

OWI Defense Attorney for Urine Analysis in West Des Moines, IA

Law enforcement utilizes urine analysis to determine your BAC. Unfortunately, the process isn’t always flawless. Multiple outside environmental factors as well as human error could affect your results and lead to a false positive. If you or someone you know has been charged with OWI because of a urine test, we urge you to contact the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

Our criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. understand the strife that accompanies an OWI charge. We want to do whatever we can to fight against these charges and get your life back in order. To learn more call (515) 279-9700 and set up your first consultation free. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. accepts clients throughout the greater Dallas County area including West Des Moines, Adel, Waukee, Perry, Miniburn, and De Soto.

Overview of Urine Analysis in Iowa

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Chemical Testing for OWI in Iowa

The state of Iowa determines blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels by chemical tests. These tests can be a blood draw, a breathalyzer test, or urinalysis. All three tests measure the number of grams of alcohol within the sample. For urinalysis, the test measures the number of grams of alcohol per 67 milliliters of urine.

Chemical testing for OWI comes with flaws. Each test process can lead to skewed results if certain circumstances arose. Outside factors, human error, and simply the inaccuracy of the test could lead to a false positive. Urine testing is no exception. The sample could become diluted or contaminated if not administrated properly. The test itself could also test positive for old substances that you ingested days or weeks ago.

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What Happens if You Refuse Urine Testing in Iowa?

Most are aware of OWI laws in the state of Iowa. However, many Iowans are unaware that refusing to submit to a chemical test is a law violation as well. In Iowa, there is something known as implied consent laws. These indicate that you must submit to OWI chemical testing by law enforcement if you are driving on Iowa’s public roads.

Thankfully, refusing to submit to testing is an administrative offense, not a criminal one. You have a constitutional right to refuse any OWI testing, but by doing so you may give the officer probable cause that you are under the influence. It’s common for people to get arrested after refusing urine testing for a short period.

In addition, your license is immediately revoked for up to one year. You can apply for a restricted license 90 days after your revocation. If your license has been revoked in the past, the revocation period will be extended to two years and you must wait one year to attempt to file for a temporary license.

So why would you refuse urine testing? Well refusing to comply with chemical testing does have some benefits. If you refuse, then the prosecution will have no concrete evidence of your intoxication. In fact, they will likely only have objective eyewitness testimony from the police officer as evidence. This means your OWI trial will be much simpler to win and you will be able to avoid a conviction in the future.

Obviously, the decision isn’t easy. No one wants to spend a night in a detention facility. However, you might want to think of the bigger picture. Refusing could be the reason you don’t have a conviction on your record that will follow you around for years. It also means you could save thousands on court fees, conviction fees and attorney’s fees.

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Issues with Urine Testing for OWI

Urinalysis is much more accurate than a breathalyzer test but doesn’t always give the results we are hoping for. The samples for urine testing are incredibly delicate and very easy to contaminate. The test itself also detects substances you may have used in the past. This is because urine testing spots the “terpenes” in your system, which for some drugs can last weeks. This means you could have a false positive for a drug you used days or weeks ago.

Listed below are some detection times for common controlled substances:

Type of Drug: Detection Time
Cocaine One day
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) One day
MDMA, Ecstasy, or Molly Two days
Ketamine Two days
Codeine Three Days
Amphetamine Three Days
Hydrocodone Three Days
Fentanyl Three Days
Methamphetamine Three Days
Oxycodone Three Days
Morphine Three Days
Flunitrazepam Five Days
Moderate Marijuana Use Five Days
Methadone Seven Days
Phencyclidine (PCP Eight days
Diazepam 10 days
Marijuana Daily Use 10 days
Marijuana Chronic Use 30 days

Other human errors or fault equipment can lead to misleading results including:

  • Improper storage;
  • Using expired testing kits;
  • Contaminated testing samples;
  • Faulty testing kits;
  • Diluted sampled;
  • Results interpreted incorrectly;
  • Sample tampering; or
  • Problems with sealing samples

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Additional Resources

OWI License Suspension Information – Visit the official website for Iowa’s Department of Transportation to learn more about an OWI-related license revocation. Access the site to learn more about driver revocations for OWI, how to reinstate your license, the penalties for driving on a revoked license, and vehicle impoundment or immobilization.

OWI Laws in Iowa – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about operating a vehicle while intoxicated, the penalties, and other related driving offenses. Access the legislation to read more on deferred judgment, BAC levels, and what happens if you are a second or subsequent OWI offender.

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Lawyer for OWI Urine Testing in Polk County, Iowa

If you or someone you know has been arrested for OWI, it’s time you gain trusted legal representation. OWI charges are nothing to laugh at and can lead to fines, restitution costs, and even time spent in jail or prison. Gain legislation that is experienced and resourceful on OWI cases with the attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. is a reputable defense firm with years of practice defending others from OWI and traffic crimes. We can collect evidence, strategize with you and unveil your legal options. Learn more by calling McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. and setting up your first appointment in the Polk County area such as Altoona, Johnston, Polk City, West Des Moines and Ankeny.