URINE TEST: DRUG DUI
There are three main types of state-mandated chemical tests that can be administered to you if you are arrested in the state of Georgia for DUI. The main three are blood, breath, or urine samples being analyzed for alcohol or drug use. The most common test used for determining a drug related DUI is a urine test. Sadly, urine tests are not always accurate due to the fact that with a urine test the concentration of drugs and/or alcohol can appear more concentrated, which means they appear more intensely than in a blood sample. Basically the traces of drugs and/or alcohol in a urine sample are not very reliable.
Drug related DUI charges are becoming more of a common offense in Georgia. "It is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive," which is what the Georgia Code, Motor Vehicles & Traffic Title 40 § 40-6-391 states. This pertains to any type of drug from illegal narcotics to legally prescribed prescription drugs. The presence of other substances, such as glue, aerosols, and other toxic vapors (which are taken into the body by huffing) are also grounds for a DUI arrest if detected in a person's system.
The Official Code of Georgia Annotated goes on to state further that, “…(6) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this Code section, there is any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance, as defined in Code Section 16-13-21, present in the persons blood or urine, or both, including the metabolites and derivatives of each or both without regard to whether or not any alcohol is present in the persons breath or blood.”
DRUG TESTS, DRUG IMPAIRMENT, & METABOLITES
The issue at hand is not whether or not someone had drugs in his or her system (unless they are consumed illegally, possessed illegally, are illegal drugs, etc.), but whether or not he or she was impaired while operating the motor vehicle. This is a very difficult question to answer due to the fact that there has not been a test yet created that can measure the level of impairment someone is experiencing or how much of a particular drug has been consumed. The only test that can somewhat determine the level of a substance consumed is a test that measures BAC (blood alcohol concentration) levels and those tests are not 100% accurate. The only thing that urine tests can determine is traces of substances in people's systems. For example, there is not a test out there that can measure the amount of marijuana someone has smoked. The closest test is the urine test and the only thing the urine test can measure is that you have traces of THC in your system. The test cannot determine if he or she has smoked six blunts or hit a joint once; it cannot determine whether or not he or she smoked marijuana eight days ago or eight minutes ago; and it cannot determine if a person is or is not impaired because of the THC traces in his or her system; all the urine test determines is the fact that there are traces of THC in his or her system, that is it.
Impairment due to drugs cannot be determined as well. Just like there is not a test to determine the amount of drugs in a person's system, there has not yet been a test created to determine the amount of drugs that it takes for a person to become impaired or a test to determine the level of impairment, as well as there is not a legal limit set by the state for drug consumption. For example, in the state of Georgia and all over the United States, BAC levels can be measured and the amount of alcohol a person consumes can determine levels of impairment. There is a legal limit of .08 grams (BAC levels) for adults, .02 for minors, and .05 for those with commercial driver's license (CDL) holders. Nowhere in the United States has a “regulated drug limit” imposed to the people of that state, county, or city because drug consumption cannot be measured.
Even though the effects of THC in marijuana have worn off, it does not mean that it cannot be detected in your system anymore. In fact, depending on your size, weight, height, and gender, THC can be detected in your bloodstream anywhere from ten to thirteen (10-13) days. Why is this? It is because of metabolites. Metabolites are the remaining components of metabolized compounds. Metabolites are what are in the blood stream even though the effects of a drug have worn off. These are the traces of the drug that show up on a drug test even when the “high” has worn off. The problem that comes with metabolites is trying to determine which metabolites are active and which metabolites are inactive. If the metabolites are inactive, that means that they are having no effects on the physiology of a person anymore. You do not feel the effects that were felt when the chemical component (THC in marijuana) is affecting your mind, body, motor skills, and so forth. If the metabolites are active however, that means that they are having and effect on the physiological and psychological aspect of the person who is using marijuana or whatever drug that has been consumed. The active metabolites continue to interact with different systems of the body in different ways. Different people react to drugs differently, so there really is not a way to measure how impaired someone is off the effects of the drug. That being said, it is a subjective experience to each individual due to the presence of active metabolites.
Some states say that any active metabolites in your blood system is grounds enough to be taken to jail, others say that there is a legal limit to how many metabolites you can have in your blood system, but either way, it is in the aftermath of these events where one is charged with a DUI officially or not. That being said, there has not been a test developed yet to measure how much of a drug being consumed can affect someone. For example, an officer cannot administer a urine test and tell you that you smoked six blunts and there are .12 grams of THC in your blood stream and you are at a high level of impairment because you smoked those six blunts 2 hours ago and are still under the effects of marijuana or that you have taken seven Vicodin, there are .02 grams of hydrocodone bitartrate and .04 grams of acetaminophen in your system and you are at a low level of impairment because you took them as directed by a doctor for the past seven days. All that a urine test can detect is that there are traces of the drug in your system. It cannot determine whether the metabolites in your system are active or inactive either.
URINE TESTS & THEIR ACCURACY
Urine tests are not very accurate. As much as 20% of labs processing the urine samples reported usage of illegal drugs when in fact there were not any illegal drugs being used. This margin of error can result in a case being thrown out or having the charges reduced because of inconsistency, and human error plays a major role in this as well. There are over the counter medications that can also show up in a urine test causing the results to read positive for illegal substances such as cold medications and non-prescription painkillers like Tylenol.
There are foods that can also make a urine test read positive. Hemp foods can make the urine sample give a positive result for illegal drug use. Another food that will make a urine test give a positive reading for illegal drugs is poppy seeds. There are several cases where someone ate a bagel with poppy seeds on it, was administered a urine test, and tested positive for opiates. Traces of opium and codein are present in poppy seeds, and even though you could not eat enough poppy seeds to feel any kind of high or them affect you in any way, you will still test positive if a urine test is administered to you after consuming them for up to 48 hours after consuming them.
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