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ETG Tests may be ordered in cases of alcohol related offenses, probation, and DWI charges.

In New York, if you have been charged with an alcohol-related offense, you may be ordered to complete alcohol evaluations. This is type of test sometimes uses ethyl glucuronide, or EtG testing. Speak with an experienced DWI attorney today.

What is EtG?

EtG is a byproduct of ethanol, or consumable alcohol, and glucuronide, a compound that is produced in the liver. When someone consumes an alcoholic beverage, no matter how small the amount, EtG is formed in the system and will be eliminated in the urine.

How Does an EtG Test Detect Alcohol Consumption?

An EtG urine test is known as a biomarker test. Biomarkers are measurable substances that indicate things such as diseases, infections, or other environmental exposures. In this case, the EtG test indicates whether or not the tested individual has been exposed to alcohol.

EtG can be detected in urine for a more extended period of time than it can in the blood or breath. Depending on the level of consumption, EtG can be present in the urine for up to 80 hours. Because EtG testing is extremely sensitive, it can detect even the lowest levels of EtG in the urine and can confirm the presence of alcohol in the system up to five days after consumption.

When Are EtG Tests Used?

An EtG test is often used to detect alcohol in situations that demand alcohol abstinence. These can include:

  • DUI and DWI programs
  • Alcohol treatment programs
  • Probation programs
  • Family court cases
  • Professional monitoring programs

In the early 2000s, EtG testing came into widespread use because of its sensitivity and reliability. Law enforcement and probation officers began to make use of it to ensure that the individual had refrained from using alcohol when they were directed to do so. However, despite its reliability, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has issued statements indicating that it “should not be used as a sole basis for legal or disciplinary action.”

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ETG Calculator

ETG Calculator


See graph below for passing timeline


In most states, if your ETG is above 500ng/ml you will be at high risk for failing.

NOTE: This calculator is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate and should only be used as a guideline. Calculator property of BSP legal marketing. All rights reserved.

The Downside of EtG Testing

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While the EtG test has a high success rate in determining alcohol in the system, it cannot detect where that alcohol came from. Unfortunately, EtG testing has been shown to be far too sensitive and has shown positive results from a number of common products used in the household, including:

  • Mouthwash
  • Aftershave
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Breath spray
  • Antiperspirant
  • Cosmetics
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Anything flavored with alcohol

In fact, there are hundreds of common household products containing ethanol which can result in a false positive on an EtG test. Consequently, the EtG has come under scrutiny for this false positive possibility, with a call for higher cutoff values being considered. 

Calculating Your EtG Levels

EtG tests have different cutoff values from low to high depending on the level of alcohol exposure. If you have come into contact with alcohol, you can calculate your EtG levels with this tool that will take into consideration the number of drinks consumed, the period over which they were consumed, your weight, gender, and time until your test. If your EtG comes in at above 500ng/ml, you will be at risk of failing. But results can be challenged when lower levels of EtG are present.

If an EtG test has revealed that you have used alcohol in violation of an order, it can be used as evidence against you and affect your penalties and even your freedom. It is critical to speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are being represented.

Call the experienced New York City criminal defense attorneys at Lebedin Kofman LLP at (646) 663-4430 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

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