People who are familiar with DWI cases are familiar with how law enforcement measures the blood alcohol content in suspected DWI offenders. While BAC can serve as a useful indicator of a person’s level of intoxication, it can have severe limitations as they are only accurate to a certain period of time. However, there are other methods that law enforcement can use to determine whether a person has been drinking when they are not supposed to. One such method is Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) testing.
Being charged with an alcohol-related offense on Long Island can carry serious consequences. An experienced Suffolk County DWI attorney can help you understand your rights and avoid legal issues such as points against your driving record or the ramifications of a DWI conviction. Long Island criminal defense attorney Jason Bassett works diligently to provide clients with skilled legal advice and to defend their best interests. Contact Jason Bassett Criminal Attorney today at (631) 259-6060 to schedule a consultation.
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Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a compound produced by the liver when it digests alcohol in a person’s system. When a person consumes alcohol and the liver digests it, the liver produces EtG and it stays in the body until passed through urine.
EtG is a biomarker. Biomarkers are byproducts produced by the human body that can indicate whether a person has been exposed to other chemicals, is ill, or if they have an infection. When a person’s urine is tested and is positive for the presence of EtG, it serves as evidence that the person consumed or been exposed to alcohol.
EtG can be present in a person’s urine for up to 80 hours. EtG tests are highly sensitive and can detect exposure to alcohol for up to five days after the initial exposure depending on how much alcohol was consumed. This is far longer than how long alcohol can be detected through a breathalyzer test or a blood test.
Due to EtG testing’s reliability, law enforcement agencies have included the process to detect consumption of alcohol in cases where a defendant is required to abstain. Some programs or instances where EtG testing can be imposed include the following:
EtG testing has been adopted for use by law enforcement to ensure compliance with abstinence requirements in legal sentences and for compulsory treatment programs. While EtG test results are reported to be useful due to their sensitivity, this comes as a double-edged sword. In 2006, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services have issued statements arguing that EtG testing should not be used as sole evidence for alcohol consumption.
Health professionals have also argued that while EtG testing can be a viable test for testing whether a person has been exposed to alcohol, the test has no way of indicating how the person was exposed to alcohol. EtG testing results only indicate that alcohol was digested by the liver and there are many ways in which a person’s body can produce EtG even without the consumption of alcohol.
There are also cases in which a person can get a false positive result from an EtG test. It is important to remember that any kind of alcohol when digested would cause EtG to form in a person’s body. However, contact with some household products and eating specific foods can result in a false positive EtG test such as:
Some diseases can also cause a false positive result on EtG tests such as Auto-brewery Syndrome and Diabetes. Conversely, there are also cases wherein some illnesses can cause a false negative result such as a UTI. Improper storage of a urine sample can also cause the EtG in the sample to break down and result in a false negative.
Testing accuracy can also be impeded by a person’s liver function. It has also been argued that EtG tests do not indicate whether a person has been drunk enough to be considered impaired. In this regard, breathalyzer tests are a more accurate point of information when conducted properly.
The tests also do not measure how much a person has drunk, only that they have a high amount of EtG in their system. The amount of EtG in a person’s body can be further influenced by the person’s age, body mass, whether they are dehydrated, and how fast their body can metabolize alcohol.
There are different cutoff levels for EtG tests depending on the purpose of the test but it is highly likely that you may fail a test if you have a result above 500 ng/ml. The calculator aims to give an estimate of what a person’s EtG may be like depending on their gender, body mass, how much alcohol they consumed, and how long has it been since they last consumed alcohol. The results of an EtG test can be challenged easier if the results recorded lower levels of EtG present.
However, it is important to remember that for cases requiring total abstinence, either as part of probation requirements or a legal sentence, having any EtG detected in a test can be considered a violation. Seeking the help of an experienced Long Island DWI attorney can be crucial in avoiding any legal complications and putting your freedom in jeopardy.
Suffolk County criminal defense attorney Jason Bassett has a long and proven record of providing quality legal assistance to Long Island residents who have been charged with an offense. He is closely familiar with the legal strategies law enforcement and prosecutors can use and has established a reputation as a trial-ready Suffolk County attorney. Our team of legal professionals may be able to help investigate the circumstances of your case and build a personalized legal strategy to secure the best possible outcome. Call Jason Bassett Criminal Attorney today at (631) 259-6060.
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