Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs


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Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Drug DUI Cases

You are probably familiar with the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, from decades of announcements and warnings from MADD and law enforcement agencies.  An even bigger problem might be Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. If you have been charged with a Driving under the influence of Drugs (DUID) case, this page has important information for you.

By some government estimates, this year will be the year that the number of drugged driving cases outweigh drunk driving cases from alcohol.  Most expected that, as marijuana became legal, and thus more available, that the rate of marijuana driving under the influence would rise dramatically.  Instead, at least one study showed that methamphetamine was detected more than any other drug, including marijuana in DUI cases.  The advisement to just “don’t drink and drive” may need to be updated.  Most people don’t even know that a variety of legal and illegal medications and drugs can make a driver unable to drive safely.

Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs – a growing problem

As the rate of alcohol DUIs has declined over two decades, law enforcement, and crime labs, suspect that people are driving more under the influence of medications, whether prescribed or not.  To capture those people with a drug DUI that might otherwise be undetected, Orange County (including, importantly, the Orange County Crime Lab), decided to do three things in 2015, to change policies to reflect what is actually happening on roadways:

  1. Train more officers in detecting people that might be under the influence of a drug. Those officers trained are known as Drug Recognition Experts or DREs.
  2. Obtain new equipment that can test for drugs in blood or urine, including metabolites, to show when the drug was consumed, or in what quantities; and
  3. Test each and every blood or urine sample for drugs in any Orange County DUI case if the defendant was arrested for DUI and there was a 0.0% blood alcohol reading, or if a law enforcement officer suspects drug use and requests a drug screen.

What is the definition of a drug?

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) manual used to train DRE officers to detect drugged driving, the definition of a drug is “any substance, which when taken into the human body, can impair the ability of the person to operate a motor vehicle.”

How can law enforcement tell if you are Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?

Officials in Orange County, and throughout California, feel that there aren’t enough drug recognition experts (DREs) available. As mentioned, there is a push to train officers in what to look for in Drug DUI cases.

Officers generally look for:

  • Eye tracking
  • Fast or irregular pulse and heartbeat
  • Unusual pupil size (enlarged pupils or the opposite)
  • Twitching
  • Lack of coordination
  • Problems estimating the passage of time (which can indicate the speeding up of stimulants or the slowing down of the nervous system from depressants); and
  • Cold, clammy, sweaty skin

There are other symptoms unique to certain categories of drugs.  A drug in the body mixed with alcohol may also have other symptoms that can hide drug use or mimic other drugs.

Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and specific drugs

Drugs that law enforcement report are common, or are particularly dangerous, include the following:

Even over the counter substances, like herbal relaxation capsules, or certain teas, can cause you to drive under the influence. Caffeine can also be a substance that can impair driving at certain doses, and in California, people have been prosecuted for driving under the influence of caffeine.

With the prevalence of Orange County marijuana DUI cases, Orange County police officers and other law enforcement are especially interested in detection and testing issues.

NHTSA states:  “Cannabis appears to interfere with a person’s ability or willingness to pay attention. People under the influence of Cannabis usually do not divide their attention very well. When driving, they may attend to certain parts of the driving tasks but ignore others. For example, they may continue to steer the car but ignore stop signs, traffic lights, etc.”.

Looking at the driving, plus the symptoms of marijuana use, can indicate marijuana driving under the influence DUI:

  • Diminished inhibitions
  • Impair perception of time and distance o Eyelid and body tremors
  • Impaired attention
  • Redness of eyes
  • Residue in mouth

The officer’s training manual for DUID also states:

“Subjects under the influence of CNS stimulants or hallucinogens usually have dilated pupils. Cannabis usually causes a dilation of the pupils, but not necessarily in all cases. Most CNS depressants, Dissociative Anesthetics, and inhalants usually do not affect pupil size. Subjects under the influence of narcotic analgesics usually have constricted pupils. It is not necessary that a precise estimate of pupil size be obtained. It is enough to estimate whether the pupils are of equal size and whether they look noticeably small, about normal, or noticeably large.”

Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Testing in Orange County

As you If you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in Orange County, California, the police officer will likely request that you perform a variety of standardized field sobriety tests to establish probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving. One of those is the Rhomberg test, also used with alcohol drunk driving cases.

How to Challenge A Drugged Driving Case

Evidence collected is only as good as the testing protocols used, and every test is subject to accuracy margin of errors, or contamination.   Testing may not have been done correctly, or conclusions may be incorrect.  The Orange County crime lab, by law, keeps the urine or blood sample for one year, to make sure that the DUI defense lawyer can retest the blood or urine, and look for problems with the drug test or drug testing.

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Contact us today for a case evaluation if you have been charged with Drug DUI – DUID Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.

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