Generally, if there is some erratic driving or an accident, the first thing they will do if they do not smell alcohol, smelling alcohol is the first thing that police officers decide when they see erratic driving. They think somebody might be under the influence of alcohol, but if they do not smell that they will usually just ask people. Have you taken any prescription medications or things like that, if they are acting lethargic or somehow they act like they are under the influence of something? If they do not act like they are under the influence of something, questions probably never came up. But, if they are acting a little bit slow or something, that is when the officer suspects there might be a drug involvement, then they start asking them.
People generally will say, I took prescription Percodan four hours ago or something like that. Generally, most officers will just run them through the standard field sobriety tests they use for alcohol and if the people do not do well on those tests, they will arrest them for a DUI with suspicion of drugs and make them take a blood or urine test. You do not get a breath test if they suspect drugs. It has to be blood or urine. Also, if they find something in the car, but most police officers are not DREs, or drug recognition experts. A lot of times somebody in their organization will be what is called a DRE, or they might have several of them.
One of them will come to the scene where the person is being questioned and run through field sobriety tests and give them additional tests like blood pressure, pulse and different kinds of field sobriety tests. In my opinion, it is all pretty much what I call voodoo science. It does not really tell them if somebody is under the influence of drugs or not, but they use it as a reasonable probable cause to arrest. But, these DREs go through some extended training on drug recognition effects. For instance, certain drugs will increase blood pressure and heart pulse rates. Certain drugs will decrease it. Certain drugs will cause dilation of the eyes. Certain drugs will cause pinpoint pupils. A little different than the alcohol field sobriety tests.
Can Someone Get Convicted Of A Prescription Medication DUI Based On The DRE's Findings?
Without a corresponding blood or urine test that would be pretty difficult to do unless there was a gross sentence. Generally speaking that is not enough. Usually that is just probable cause to arrest.
Should Someone Ever Admit To Taking Prescription Medication At A DUI Stop?
My opinion is that you do not say anything to the police because anything you say they are going to use that against you anyway. They are not out there to help you. They are there to make it easier for them to convict you of something. So, they will ask what I consider dumb questions that implicate you, such as, have you been drinking? Have you taken any drugs? The Supreme Court has said that it is okay and they do not have to read you your Miranda Rights or anything like that because these are preliminary questions. But, my opinion is you still have the right to say “I don't want to answer any questions until I talk to my lawyer.”
Unless you know that you are okay. You know what to tell them that is not going to get you in trouble. But, if they ask you have you taken any prescription medications, most people are going to answer honestly and tell them. My feeling is most people do not feel that medication is causing any problems, or they took it as prescribed and it was several hours ago and they are not feeling any effects from it. So they will answer those questions. It is something you have to deal with on a case by case situation. You do not know whether you are better off answering those questions or just refusing to answer. Some of these questions do not have an answer and how do you handle it. It is not necessarily up to the individual.
Are Prescription Medication DUIs Easier To Handle Than Alcohol Based DUIs?
Drug cases are different. There is no standard. In the United States, most states say that a .08% or above, you are deemed to be under the influence or impaired if it is alcohol, but they do not really have anything like that with drugs. They do not have something to say X Nano grams of THC. At least not in California. So it is a little more difficult for them because they have to bring in an expert that can testify that this amount of drugs in your system would cause impairment and there are not a lot of studies or experts that can do that honestly. They can bring in their own experts to say whatever they want them to say, what the cops want them to say or what the DA wants them to say.
However, you can always find an expert on the defense's side that will debunk that. You cannot say definitively this amount of drugs will cause impairment, because everybody reacts differently to them. It is not like alcohol. Another way of making it easier is that it is expensive for them to test for drugs and a lot of times they only do what is called a preliminary screening test. They do not do the confirmatory test unless they actually have to go to trial. Sometimes they get to negotiate with the DA on a case because the county does not want to spend the money that it costs. We have to pay the lab to do an extensive testing for drugs. Some counties have to send it out to private labs. They are not even equipped to do the actual confirmatory testing or, quantitative testing; they call it, for drugs. This way negotiations may be easier.
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