Why are breath, urine, and blood tests administered?

Officers ask for the tests to get information to make an arrest for operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI). If the results validate the officer's suspicion, a prosecutor can use them to secure a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What do the tests measure?

The tests measure whether your blood, breath, or urine affirmatively shows that the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system is above the legal limit in Ohio. Alcohol can be detected on a person's breath. Both alcohol and drugs can be found in urine and blood.

Do the actual numbers matter?

Yes. Under Ohio law, any driver who blows a .08 on a breath test is automatically assumed to be impaired and presumed to be guilty of OVI. That per se standard is set at .04 for commercial truck and bus drivers, and at .02 for drivers under the age of 21.

Do per se standards exist for drugs that can impair driving?

Yes. Legal limits exist under Ohio law for driving after taking amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, LSD, marijuana, methamphetamines, and PCP/phencyclidine. The fact that amphetamines use can lead to a positive OVI test may raise concerns for people taking some ADD/ADHD that include those drugs as the active pharmaceutical ingredients. If you agree to provide a blood or urine sample, tell the officer about any prescriptions you take.

Are there ways to beat the tests?

No. The way tests are done and how samples get handled can invalidate results, but you cannot do anything to mask the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system.

Can I refuse to provide breath, urine, and blood samples?


Is there a penalty for refusing to provide breath, urine, and blood samples for testing?

Expect to lose your license at least temporarily if you decline a request for laboratory and chemical testing. This penalty is automatic for people with prior OVI convictions, prior convictions for refusing alcohol and drug tests, and commercial drivers suspected of OVI while working. Administrative license suspensions-seizures without court hearings-are also nearly automatic for OVI suspects younger than 21.

A license lost via administrative license suspension cannot be returned and reinstated without action by a court or, in the case of a CDL, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Can any of the tests be administered by the side of the road?

Yes, but results from breath and fluid tests done in the field should not be accepted as valid evidence in court. Only the results from breath, urine, and blood tests performed in state-permitted medical facilities can be submitted to a court as evidence of intoxication and impairment. Partly for this reason, many jurisdictions in Ohio discourage police officers from using portable breath test devices.

What if I submit to the tests but the alcohol and/or drug levels are below legal limits?

Test results constitute just one form of OVI evidence. A judge or jury can find a person guilty of driving under the influence based on an officer's account of the suspect's behavior, witness testimony, and low concentrations of intoxicants.

Can police and prosecutors get my BAC and drug concentrations even if I refuse to submit breath, urine, and blood samples?

They can if they secure a warrant to review medical records created while you received treatment for any reason following an arrest.

How can test results be challenged in court?

Here are some grounds for questioning the validity of a test:

  • Police officers must inform suspects of their right to refuse DUI/OVI testing.
  • Both breath and body fluid tests must be conducted within three hours of arrest to produce maximally valid results.
  • Health facilities that perform urine and blood tests for alcohol consumption and drug use must have permits from the Ohio Department of Health to do those procedures.
  • All equipment used to collect samples and carry out analyses must be in proper working order.
  • Samples and test results must be kept secure through a clear and unbroken chain of custody.

Let Campbell Law Help

Prosecutors view uncontested breath, urine, and blood test results as open-and-shut OVI cases. April Campbell knows this because she served as a county prosecutor for several years. She also learned how flawed the system can be and now works to ensure that results from poorly done and inconclusive laboratory and chemical tests do not stand up in court.

If you need representation from a knowledgeable and dedicated Columbus DUI lawyer, contact Campbell Law. The first conversation costs you nothing.