FAQ – Oral Fluid Testing for DUI / OVI in Columbus & Central Ohio

Q: Is Oral Fluid Testing Used for DUI / OVI in Ohio?

A: Yes. Before 2023, Ohio tested for alcohol and drugs in a driver’s blood, breath, and urine. Beginning in April of 2023, Ohio law also authorizes testing a driver’s oral fluid for alcohol and drugs in DUI / OVI cases. When a police officer suspects a driver is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol, the officer may collect an oral fluid sample from the driver. The sample may then be tested for the presence and level of drugs and alcohol.

Q: How Is Oral Fluid Collected for DUI / OVI in Ohio?

A: If a person is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a police officer may collect a sample of the driver’s oral fluid. To do so, the officer places a tube or swab inside the mouth of the driver and swabs the driver’s tongue and cheeks.

Q: How Is Oral Fluid Tested for DUI / OVI in Ohio?

A: After an officer collects a sample of a driver’s oral fluid, the officer inserts the collection tube or collection swab into a device. The device has a testing strip with antibodies which are known to bind with certain antigens (suspected drugs). A part of the testing strip will indicate if an antibody binds with a target antigen. That indication signals the presence of a certain drug. The intensity of the signal can be used to calculate the level of the drug. The sample of oral fluid may also be sent to a forensic laboratory for further testing.

Q: Is Oral Fluid Testing Reliable?

A: Oral fluid testing conducted with the immunoassay method is not very reliable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has cautioned that these tests produce false positive results and lack specificity. Given the unreliable character of oral fluid testing, the results should not be used in court.

Q: Is Oral Fluid Testing Effective for Marijuana DUI / OVI?

A: Marijuana is the drug most commonly suspected in Ohio DUI / OVI cases. Oral fluid testing is used to detect marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient: THC. Testing is done for THC because, when THC reaches receptors in the brain, the THC may impair the person’s driving.

Testing oral fluid for THC is not an effective method for determining whether the person’s driving was impaired by THC. THC found in a person’s oral fluid is not impairing the person’s ability to operate a vehicle: THC in a person’s blood impairs driving when the THC reaches the brain. There is no correlation between the level of THC in a person’s oral fluid and the level of THC in a person’s blood. Detecting and measuring THC in oral fluid tells nothing about the level of THC in a person’s blood or the person’s ability to operate a vehicle.

Lawyers For DUI / OVI in Columbus and Central Ohio

The lawyers at the Dominy Law Firm have published articles on the topic of oral fluid testing and have made presentations to other lawyers about oral fluid testing. We understand how to defend DUI / OVI cases involving oral fluid testing. If you are facing a DUI / OVI charge based on an oral fluid test, we can help. We have helped thousands of clients with DUI / OVI charges in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio. To talk with one of our lawyers about representation for your case, you can submit a CONTACT FORM or call 614-717-1177 to arrange a free phone consultation.

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