Blood tests are a key part of DUI cases, helping to measure how much alcohol is in the system of someone who is accused of driving under the influence. Understanding blood tests in Nebraska’s DUI cases, including defenses related to these tests, is very helpful for people facing such charges, as they can greatly affect the outcome of a case. Read on to learn more about Nebraska’s laws on DUI and how blood tests factor into the equation.

DUI Lawyers in Omaha

The complexities of the rights of the accused in DUI cases, especially in regard to breath and blood tests, and can be difficult to deduce. Our attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to provide full-service representation. Your lawyer will ensure that you understand your rights, DUI laws, and build the strongest defense possible at court.

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI or ordered to provide a blood test, call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Nebraska’s DUI Laws

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Nebraska’s DUI Law

Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196 makes it illegal for anyone to drive or have control over a vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Specifically, it defines two key blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits. Firstly, a person is considered to be driving under the influence if their blood contains eight-hundredths of one gram or more of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of blood. Secondly, the same applies if their breath contains eight-hundredths of one gram or more of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath. Violating these limits is a criminal offense.

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Nebraska DUI Penalties

Nebraska law outlines punishments for driving under the influence (DUI). People caught for the first time with a BAC below 0.15 are charged with a Class W misdemeanor punishable by 0-60 days in jail and a $500 fine. They could lose their driver’s license for six months and must install a device in their car that checks their breath for alcohol before the car starts. If the BAC is 0.15 or more, the driver could lose their license for a year.

For those who have been convicted before, the consequences are tougher. If it’s their second time, the court could take away their license for 18 months. If their BAC is 0.15 or higher, or if they refuse the blood test, the charge is a Class I misdemeanor. This could mean a jail sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $1,000. People with two or more previous convictions face even harsher penalties. Depending on the circumstances, the charge could escalate all the way up to a Class IIIA felony punishable by up to three years in jail and a $1,000-$10,000 fine.

In Nebraska, if someone is arrested for a first offense DUI and fails the blood test, they will lose their license for a minimum of 6 months. For refusals or subsequent DUI’s, their license will be taken for at least a year. People are only given 10 days to challenge this license revocation, so it is important to call an attorney right away.

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Nebraska DUI Testing

In Nebraska, the police officer decides whether the chemical test is for blood, breath, or urine. Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,199, the person being tested can ask for another test by a doctor of their choice to double-check their condition. If the officer doesn’t allow this second test, the results from the first test can’t be used in court. Also, if the person tested asks for them, the officer must share the results of the test they administered. This law makes sure that people have a way to verify the accuracy of DUI test results independently.

Validating DUI Tests in Nebraska

In Nebraska, to be valid, tests for DUI (like blood, breath, or urine tests) must be done following rules set by the Department of Health and Human Services. The person conducting the test needs a permit from this department. There are exceptions, though. At a police officer’s request, a doctor, nurse, or another qualified person at a licensed healthcare facility can take blood for a DUI test without needing this permit. The Department of Health and Human Services approves the test methods and checks the qualifications of those conducting the tests. They can also stop or revoke these permits.

Nebraska Law on Forced Blood Tests

In Nebraska, if someone is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and doesn’t agree to take a blood, breath, or urine test, they won’t be forced to, unless it’s for medical reasons. Under Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,210, if a driver is in a car accident and taken to the hospital where they have their blood tested for medical reasons, the results of this test can be used in court. This is true even if the driver didn’t consent to a test by the police or refused a chemical test after the accident.

The law also says that if a blood test indicates alcohol or drugs in the system, these results can be used in a trial. This is relevant in cases such as DUI or vehicular homicide. In Nebraska, hospitals or medical staff who perform these blood tests for treating the driver are required to share the test results with prosecutors if requested.

Blood Sample Collection and Handling Rules

There are specific rules for collecting blood from a person suspected of drinking and driving. The police need to collect at least two blood samples, each in a special vial with a gray stopper, containing about six milliliters of blood. It’s required for the medical staff to check that there’s a gray powder in the tube, which prevents the blood from clotting and keeps it suitable for testing. The tubes must be shaken to mix the contents.

The medical staff are supposed to label each vial with the person’s name, the date and time of collection, and either sign it or put their initials. This labeling helps in keeping track of the sample and is recorded in the officer’s DUI report. Police officers are supposed to thoroughly document everything about the blood test, including when and where it was taken, and who collected it, noting their full name, job, address, and phone number.

The officer in charge of the samples must oversee the blood collection process and ensure the samples are securely stored until they’re officially recorded. Typically, the crime lab analyzes the blood samples and sends a report with the findings to the officer’s station, the police records department, and the city prosecutor’s office.

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Defenses to DUI Based on Blood Tests

Improper Blood Extraction or Testing Procedures

One common defense in DUI cases is questioning how the blood was taken or tested. There are strict rules about how blood should be drawn, like having the officer watch and making sure the samples are correctly labeled. If these rules aren’t followed, like if the blood is taken wrongly or the labels are mixed up, this can be used to challenge the test’s accuracy. Also, if the equipment used was not working right, or if the medical staff didn’t do things properly (like checking for certain chemicals in the tube or mixing the blood well), the test results might not be reliable.

Chain of Custody Errors

Handling blood samples for a DUI test requires careful tracking and record-keeping. If there are mistakes in how the samples were recorded, labeled, or handled, it can raise doubts about the evidence’s trustworthiness. For instance, if the details of the person who took the sample are wrong, or if the samples were not handled correctly and could be contaminated, it might mean the evidence isn’t solid.

Violation of Legal Rights

Another key defense is if a person’s right to an independent medical check was ignored. In Nebraska, someone can ask for their own doctor to check them and do extra tests after the initial blood test. If this right is denied, it could mean their legal rights were violated, which might affect whether the blood test results can be used in court.

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How Criminal Defense Lawyers Help Clients Facing DUI Charges

In Nebraska, hiring a DUI attorney is important to combat a DUI charge. They provide detailed advice on the legal implications and represent the client in court, ensuring their rights are fully protected. These lawyers examine every piece of evidence, such as police reports and blood test results, to find any errors that might weaken the prosecution’s case, potentially leading to reduced charges or dismissal.

When the evidence is strong, DUI attorneys negotiate with prosecutors for lesser charges or sentencing, relying on their understanding of Nebraska DUI laws and relationships with local legal authorities. They also handle issues related to driving license suspension, representing clients in DMV hearings, and guiding them through processes to regain driving privileges, like getting an ignition interlock device.

Moreover, DUI attorneys explore alternative sentencing options, such as probation with community service or alcohol education programs, which can replace or reduce jail time. They tailor their defense strategies to each client’s unique situation, considering past offenses and personal circumstances.

Finally, a major part of the DUI lawyer’s role is to ensure that the client’s constitutional rights are respected throughout the legal proceedings, challenging any violations to safeguard the integrity of the case.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you refuse a blood test in a DUI case in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, Officers generally need your consent or a warrant for a blood draw, although they can subpoena medical records from hospitals to get blood tests for evidence.

Can a blood test determine if you’re over the legal alcohol limit in Nebraska?

Yes, blood tests measure alcohol levels and can show if they’re above the legal limit.

What are the legal alcohol limits in Nebraska for driving?

Legally, a BAC of 0.08 or more is considered driving under the influence.

What are the penalties for a first-time DUI offense in Nebraska?

Penalties typically include 0- 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a six-month license suspension.

How does Nebraska’s implied consent law affect DUI cases?

By driving in Nebraska, you agree to chemical tests, which can be used against you in court.

What if the blood test in your DUI case was improperly handled?

Improper handling can challenge the test’s reliability and impact the case’s outcome.

What are the consequences of a high BAC in a Nebraska DUI case?

A high BAC can lead to harsher penalties, including longer jail time and larger fines.

Can you request an independent blood test in Nebraska after a DUI arrest?

Yes, you can request a second test from a doctor of your choice for verification.

Are there defenses against DUI charges based on blood test results?

Yes, some defenses might include questioning test accuracy and handling, and legal rights violations.

How can a DUI attorney help in a Nebraska DUI case?

They provide legal advice, represent in court, challenge evidence, and negotiate lesser charges or sentences.

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Additional Resources

DUI Blood Tests: This article discusses the qualifications of those who take blood tests and whether police need a warrant to take a blood test from a suspect, among other topics. Also covers potential challenges to the results of DUI blood tests and whether the tests are reliable.

Supreme Court Decision on BAC in DUI Case: Discusses the 2016 decision of the US Supreme Court about ways law enforcement officers can obtain and use chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) tests in cases of suspected impaired driving. The Court in one case held that taking a blood sample amounted to an unconstitutional search. The article notes that the decision spurred at least five defendants to appeal tests to the Nebraska Supreme Court and may result in some changes to law enforcement’s practices and procedures to do with blood tests.

Blog on Blood Tests as Evidence: This post discusses a 2018 Nebraska Supreme Court decision on blood tests from hospitals in DUI investigations. The Nebraska Supreme Court held that a hospital blood draw is admissible against the Defendant at trial.

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Find a DUI Lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska

The attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to defend you in the case of an ordered breath test.

Our firm proudly serves Omaha in Douglas County, including Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Fremont in Dodge County and Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for domestic violence, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

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