In my role as a Michigan DUI lawyer who concentrates his drinking and driving practice in the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties), I have published hundreds of informational articles about every facet of the DUI process on this blog, as well as my site. This article will be about alcohol and drug testing in DUI cases, and will also mark a slight shift from my usual approach, because beyond just confining myself to a mostly objective examination of the topic at hand, I also want to make a few “editorial” points, as well. Testing, both as a condition of bond and as a requirement of probation, has essentially become universal in local DUI cases. The inspiration for what the reader may glean as my attitude in this article came, quite literally, as I was looking at my computer screen thinking about what to write, and received a phone call from Ann, my senior assistant, describing the difficulty a client of mine was having as he struggled to comply with his testing requirement. This client lives in Florida, and has a DUI charge pending in an Oakland County district court. As I write this article, hurricane Irma is pummeling Florida, and many people from the state are evacuating, and pretty much everyone else is bracing for disaster. Everyone there is worried about just surviving, rather than urine or breath testing.
As Ann explained how my client wanted to do his best to comply with the court’s order, despite having to deal with an actual hurricane, I couldn’t help but remark what a HUGE pain in the a$$ all this testing stuff has become. In fact, the whole “testing” thing eats up a ton of court time, and has grown into a monster industry (in every sense of the word) in its own right. For a lawyer like me, who handles DUI issues every single day, not a week, or even part of a week, goes by without some problem arising due to alcohol and/or drug testing. What makes this such a pain is that much of the time, it’s not about my clients getting caught drinking. Instead, I see endless non-drinking issues, like missed tests, a miscommunications about testing, or false-positive results. And for those who do imbibe and get caught, it’s often like the angel of bad luck has made sure that the ONE TIME they did have anything to drink, they had to test right after.
For all the problems testing creates, and there sure are a lot of them, the simple fact is that, as a tool to ensure compliance with an order to not drink or use drugs, it is effective. Most people will resist any offers to drink or party when they know they’re going to be tested. Moreover, the majority of people who winding up testing positive do so because they did, in fact, drink or use. In that sense, testing works. However, from where I sit, dealing with the fallout of honest errors (like a missed test) and false positives, I have to wonder if the overall cost time, effort, and money just hasn’t grown too high. One cannot sit through a morning or afternoon’s session in any courtroom without at least several testing issues being heard. Of course, most of them involve someone testing positive because they ARE positive for alcohol or other substances, but plenty of others involve things like missed tests and other situations where the burden of testing just became one thing too many in a person’s life. Most people don’t miss a test because they decided to skip it, stay home, and watch cartoons, instead. Most often, there is either a miscommunication about the need to test, or, the person simply got caught up in life, with things like kids and work.