California officials are warning against “drugged driving” after a statewide survey found drugs that can affect driving in one of every seven weekend nighttime motorists — nearly twice the number of those with alcohol in their system.The survey found that 14% of drivers surveyed tested positive for driving under the influence of impairing drugs — both illegal and prescription — while 7.3% of drivers tested positive for driving with alcohol in their system.
Not all inebriated driving crimes involve the consumption of a large amount of alcohol. Drugged drivers can be under the influence of prescriptions, marijuana, cocaine, Xanax, or sleep aids such as Ambien. Many individuals who have been prescribed medication for illness or pain are under the mistaken impression that they cannot be arrested for drugged driving because they were legally prescribed their medication by doctors.
In particular, drugs that are taken for anxiety or allergies can make one sleepy and affect one’s ability to react. “Pep” pills can cause one to become nervous, dizzy, and can cause difficulty concentrating and blurred vision.
For law enforcement to legal arrest one for driving under the influence of prescription medication, the officer must show one was affected to the extent that one’s normal faculties were impaired. Unlike drunk driving, the prosecuting attorney does not have to establish that the amount of the substance in the one’s system was at any certain level. This can seem extraordinarily unjust to an accused party who is following a doctor’s orders, but was still accused of being impaired.
Law enforcement officers are trained to identify signs of impairment. While signs of impairment for alcohol may include an odor of alcohol and slurred speech, signs of impairment from drugs may be different. In order to detect impairment from drugs, many police departments have Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). These DREs may examine one’s reflexes and look at one’s pupil responses to determine what substances, if any, they believe that you may be using.
These DREs are police officers who have been trained in drug-impairment detection.
DREs are not perfect. They are not trained medical professionals. They are cops, who likely learned their methods of detection by other cops. However, when one is charged with a Jacksonville drug related DUI, one must realize the criminal penalties are some of the harshest nationwide.
As is the case with prescription medication, the prosecuting attorney must demonstrate that a driver using illicit narcotics was affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties were impaired. Unlike prescription drugs, however, there is a societal stigma associated with the illegal use of narcotics.
DUI drug cases can effectively be challenged in court by an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney. There are many hurdles the state must jump in proving the crime of driving under the influence of drugs. Due to a lack of scientific research, the prosecution of these crimes continues to develop. If a DRE is not involved in the case, then the prosecution will have a difficult time proving how the symptoms that were observed were associated with a particular drug. When is facing the potential consequences of a drug related DUI conviction, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight the case and make sure one’s rights and defenses are known and protected.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Additional Source: More Californians driving high than drunk on weekends, study says, Wesley Lowery, The Los Angeles Times