Articles Posted in DUI Drug Charges

Am I Responsible for Drugs in a Car I am Driving?

Yes, it is possible for you to be arrested, charged and convicted of a drug charge for drugs found anywhere inside a car you are driving. Because of the concept of constructive possession, you can be charged even if the drugs don’t belong to you. Provided you have knowledge of the drugs, and the right to control them, you can be charged with possession of drugs that are not actually in your purse or pocket.  If there are enough drugs, and other “indicia of intent to sell” you can also be charged with delivery of drugs, a much more serious crime. This concept of constructive possession can be applied to marijuana, unlawful prescription drugs, drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth. and many other drugs.

It’s always good to remember that an arrest is not a conviction, and just because the police can charge you with a crime does not mean the prosecutor can prove it happened.  Once you’ve hired an experienced drug crime lawyer, he or she will be looking for various ways to defend and win your case.  If you encountered the police while driving a car, and during the encounter, drugs are found, your lawyer will first want to determine if there is a search and seizure issue. If the police violated your fourth amendment rights during the encounter, then this can result in the suppression of any evidence found.  Since a drug charge is dependent on evidence of drugs, suppression of the evidence will often lead to dismissal of the charges.

If your car was stopped by the police, then your lawyer will also want to examine the record to determine if the vehicle was lawfully stopped. This is a different kind of search and seizure issue, and just as with the drugs, if your fourth amendment rights were violated by the traffic stop, this can also lead to the dismissal of your case.  This is based on the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, which essentially stands for the proposition that any evidence found after the unlawful stop is inadmissible as evidence.

Can I Legally Use Marijuana in Canada then Drive Home to Michigan?

No. Using Marijuana lawfully in Canada puts you at risk of an intoxicated driving charge in Michigan. This is true even though Canada recently passed new federal laws effectively making it legal to possess and use marijuana.  Nevertheless, this new Canadian law may have an impact on how intoxicated driving laws are enforced here in Michigan. To understand why it’s helpful to briefly summarize Michigan’s drugged driving laws.

Until marijuana is also legalized for recreational use, Michigan’s intoxicated driving laws distinguish between the lawful and the unlawful use of marijuana.  For people who can lawfully use medical marijuana, the police and prosecutor must show that the marijuana lawfully consumed substantially lessened the ability to operate the motor vehicle.  In these circumstances, the police and prosecutor will rely on the driving observed and the roadside behavior of the motorist, including the performance on any field sobriety tasks, administered.  Sometimes a blood test result showing a high level of THC in the blood will also be used to bolster their evidence of intoxication.  If the jury believes that all of this evidence shows that the driver was intoxicated, then a conviction for OWI or Operating While Intoxicated will follow.

This level and type of proof are much different for the unlawful use of marijuana where the prosecutor need only show that at the time of driving the accused had any amount of THC in their blood.  This is a zero-tolerance crime, meaning that the prosecutor is relieved of any burden to show intoxication.  Simply having the THC in the bloodstream at the time of operation is sufficient.

Michigan to Begin Roadside Saliva Testing for Drugs

In 2016 new laws were passed to allow and encourage roadside salvia drug testing.  The laws are set forth in MCL 257.62a, 257.625r, 257.625s, and 257.625t.  Michigan’s legislators passed these new laws because there is a belief that more drivers are under the influence of illegal and prescription drugs.  In fact, according to NHTSA, there has been a 32% increase in fatal accidents involving drug use.

As has been previously reported, the testing under these laws was delayed, and apparently, the Michigan State Police are ready to roll out the new program in five counties.  These five include Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw.

The saliva tests will be given when a motorist is suspected of being under the influence of drugs.  This might happen when the driver exhibits signs of intoxication, but a roadside breath test shows zero or very low for alcohol, or when the belief is that drugs may be on board in addition to any alcohol.

Boyle Presents at Drugged Driving Seminar in Lansing Michigan

Imagine you have done nothing wrong but for a minor moving violation. You have not been drinking.  You have not consumed any prescription or illegal drugs.  You tell the officer the truth.  But then you are arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.  This was the very unfortunate circumstance for not one, not two, but three Georgia women, all arrested by the same highly credentialed, drug specific trained, experienced police officer.[1]

This was the story that Michael J. Boyle shared with a conference room full of defense attorneys and prosecutors of WHY they were all there today.  Those three women are not the only ones that end up wrongly arrested, and it is not only happening in Georgia, but in Michigan and in every other state.  The only way to protect those from wrongly arrested, and potentially wrong convicted, is to have an attorney with the experience and knowledge to know how to handle the case.

On May 12th and 13th Attorneys from across Michigan gathered in Lansing for the first ever Seminar put on in concert by the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys (MIAOWIA) and the Marijuana Law Section (MLS) of the State Bar of Michigan.  The two-day Marijuana Criminal Law Seminar titled “Everything About Medical Marijuana in Michigan” covered a variety of current marijuana issues including Hot Topics, Search and Seizure, License Restoration, Section 4 and Section 8 Hearings, Marijuana Drug Recognition Evaluations (DRE), Chemical Testing for Marijuana, the most recent Michigan Case Law and Legislative Updates, and Marijuana and Driving in Michigan.

Michigan Saliva Drug Test Program Delayed Until Spring

Michigan passed a law such that beginning in September 2016 police were going to start testing a salvia drug swab.  Apparently, however, the technology has not caught up with the law, and so, according to Mlive, the program is being delayed.  An MSP spokesperson said the program isn’t likely to get started now until spring 2017.  To read more about this new law, see:

  • Michigan Police to Begin Testing Intoxicated Drivers Saliva for Drugs

The reasoning behind this new law is simple: drunk driving arrests are declining, year after year, in nearly every state in the union.  This presents a funding problem for many police departments and courts.  This is because the police receive money directly from each drunk driving arrest they make in the state of Michigan.  This money comes in the form of “costs of prosecution,” which vary from about $250.00 per arrest to sometimes 2 or three times that much.  This accounting for police overtime can include an hourly accounting of the police time necessary to process the person they arrested.  These costs of prosecution are added to all the other fines and court costs a convicted drunk driver is forced to pay.  Courts get their money from each drunk driving arrest in the form of these fines and costs.

There are many ways to make up for this loss in revenue attributable to the declining numbers.  One would be to try and increase the number back up by lowering the legal limit, thereby bringing even the most responsible drinkers into the law enforcement web.  More than likely the legal limit will be reduced to .05 in Michigan, it’s just a matter of time.  However, there are no bills pending in Michigan to reduce the legal limit.

Michigan DUI laws have recently changed, and beginning in September 2016, Michigan drivers who appear to be driving under the influence of a drug other than alcohol may be required to submit to a preliminary roadside drug test.  This preliminary test will be in the form of a saliva test.

The reason for this change in the law is that for many years law enforcement has claimed that people drive under the influence of drugs 7 times more often than alcohol. They also claim that the number of fatal car accidents caused by drivers under the influence of drugs has increased 5% year after year.  One of the problems law enforcement has faced relative to drugged driving cases is that they lacked a reliable inexpensive roadside test for drugs.  That apparently has changed with various saliva drug tests recently coming to market.

In consideration of this newly available saliva test, Michigan has passed a couple new laws to allow it’s use by Michigan police.  Thus, on June 23rd, two separate Public Acts were signed by Gov. Snyder, both regarding a pilot program that aims to test the use of saliva testing to screen potential drugged drivers on the road side.[i]  Both of these acts will take effect on September 22nd and are codified under MCL 257.62a, 257.625r, 257.625s, and 257.625t.

Starting in the fall of 2016, Michigan police will have a new tool to help them fight intoxicated driving.  This new tool comes in the form of a saliva test for drugs, and it will be used in conjunction with a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, to help Michigan police arrest for drivers for DUI. Additionally, Michigan has expanded its definition of DRE so as to allow more departments to begin using salvia testing for marijuana.

These tools are important because in Michigan you can be arrested for DUI because you are under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of drugs.  If the DUI involves either drugs or alcohol, the crime is the same, and the punishment is the same.  Michigan’s Governor recently signed a law that creates a pilot program to explore the expanded use of saliva tests for drugs.  These saliva tests will be used by Michigan police in certain DUI traffic stops.

Under this pilot program, Michigan State Police will select five counties for participation.  However, in order to participate, the county must meet certain requirements. For example, the statute corresponding to PA 243, i.e., MCL 257.625t requires that the subject county have at least one certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) on staff at any level of agency within the county.[i]

Sleep driving is a well-known side effect of Ambien.  Sleep driving is even listed as a side effect of this drug in the product literature. It is nevertheless illegal to be driving under the influence of Ambien. If you are stopped and the police believe that you are under the influence of Ambien in Michigan, then you will be arrested for DUI; just the same as if you were under the influence of alcohol.  This might be true even if you never intended to commit this crime.

In Michigan driving under the influence of Ambien is considered to be a general intent crime.  This means you do not have the specific intent to commit a DUI to be convicted of it in Michigan.  One reason for this is because intoxication is a defense to specific intent crimes.  If intoxication was a defense to DUI all persons arrested for it could raise intoxication as their defense.

However, an arrest is not a conviction.  Depending on the facts of your case, it may still be possible to raise a defense to the driving element, because even in Michigan a DUI requires the specific intent to drive.  This defense has been successful in many prior Ambien cases in Michigan. In other words, even if the totality of the crime is general intent, the driving element is specific intent.

medical-marijuana-to-say-open-pending-licensing-in-Michigan-300x204If you are stopped under suspicion of drunk driving, and your breath test proves you’re not under the influence of alcohol, you still might be arrested for DUI based on drug impairment. This can include prescription medications.

It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any drug in Michigan. This includes legal drugs like marijuana, and illegal drugs like meth and many prescription drugs.

The Many Ways a Prosecuting Attorney Can Prove You Were Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs

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