When it comes to determining if someone should be charged with DUI, law enforcement officers have several tests. They can conduct field sobriety tests initially to see if a suspect is under the influence. They then have breathalyzer tests and blood tests. Now, they also have swab tests.
In Kern County, California, a trail is ongoing that law enforcement agencies nationwide are watching. This trial could change how certain vehicles to test DUI are used, or not used, in convicting people suspected of DUI. In the case, law enforcement officials used a DUI swab to test for the presence of methamphetamine.
Swabs will not test for the presence of alcohol. Nor will they indicate the level of intoxication. The swabs provide a way to quickly test for the presence of drugs. This is important because the body metabolizes drugs quickly in some cases, before police can utilize other methods, such as blood or urine testing.
The case in Kern County is the first in which a swab test was used to receive a DUI conviction. Swab testing for the presence of drugs began in Bakersfield, Fullerton, Los Angeles, and Sacremento in 2013 and 2014. In this particular case, Junior Salas of Bakersfield, was involved in a fatal accident in which his car crossed over the center line and crashed into another vehicle. A person in the second vehicle died as a result of the crash. At the scene, law enforcement officers used a swab test and detected the presence of methamphetamine.
While useful, DUI swab tests will likely still only play a minimal role in DUI cases. It is more likely to be used as a probable cause tool, rather than to get a DUI conviction. At this point and time, the swabs only indicate the presence of a drug, and cannot indicate if the drug is present at levels that indicate intoxication.
If you or someone that you know has been charged with DUI, it is important to obtain legal counsel. Contact one of our attorneys, who specialize in DUI defense today. We will fight for the best outcome in your case.