Driving Under Influence Drugs Investigations Flawed
If 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
Similar to the way DUI cases are prosecuted, where there are two ways to prove DUI in Michigan, there are also many different ways to prove drug impaired driving. Some of these theories are called “zero tolerance” crimes because it is unlawful to drive with any amount of these substances in your system at the time you are driving.
These are what are called class one or category one drugs. An example would be cocaine. If you have any amount of cocaine in your system, then the police don’t need to prove that the drug had any impact on your driving. Just having the drug in your system is enough.
For other kinds of drugs, like cannabis and Ambien, the prosecutor must show that the drug impaired your ability to operate. Just like with a DUI involving alcohol, the prosecutor will prove this using all the observations of the police officer. This includes your driving, your appearance, any admissions, and your behavior.
The police will be observing you closely and will be making notes about what they observe. This information will make it’s way into police reports. The prosecutor will use these police reports to determine if you were driving under the influence of drugs.
Drugged Driving and Drunk Driving Starts Out the Same
If you are under investigation for drug impaired driving, you will face the same kinds of DUI charges as if under the influence of alcohol. After the police start to suspect that you’ve used drugs, and that the drugs you’ve used have lessened your ability to operate in a normal way, they will administer field sobriety tests.
The initial investigation will be used to rule out alcohol intoxication. It will start with the three standardized field sobriety tests. It will end with a preliminary breath test. If the preliminary breath test shows little or not alcohol, then the police will assume drugs are involved.
This is where the investigation will be different. Using a 12-step investigation the specially trained Drug Recognition Expert or DRE police officer will be called in to take over the investigation. The purpose of this 12-step process is to determine if you are on drugs; and if so, into which of the 7 drug categories the drug might fall. Your blood will be drawn, and you will be prosecuted for drugged driving.
How Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Investigations are Scientifically Flawed
Assuming you decide to fight the charges, when your case gets to trial, the police officer/DRE will proudly explain to the jury that they have undergone rigorous testing, and that the DRE methods have been scientifically validated.
To counter this evidence, you’ll need a top Michigan DUI Lawyer to defend your case. This lawyer will use their advanced training and skill to show the jury how the DRE investigation is simply bad science.
The trouble is, when law enforcement talks of science they rarely mean real science. What they typically mean is something that has NOT been rigorously tested but that can nevertheless be passed off in court as having the aura of scientifically reliability.
And so it is with drugged driving investigations. According to G. Kane[i], one of the authors of a new study showing the falseness of the DREs claims, the (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) NHTSA DRE program is smoke in mirrors. Specifically, he has this to say:
NHTSA’s DRE Student Manual teaches DRE officers that the Drug Influence Evaluations (aka Drug Recognition Exams) they do are validated by three “validation studies,” Johns Hopkins, LAPD 173, and the AZ DRE Validation Study. But these NHTSA “studies” were all published in-house, without peer review. And in the decades since, they’ve never been subject to scientific peer-review.
His paper is the first actually peer reviewed scientific article to look at these protocols and he has determined that the validation studies are fatally flawed. Furthermore;
When NHTSA’s validation studies report something is accurate, the thing they say is accurate is DRE officers’ predictions of the presence of drugs in a person’s blood —after the officer has asked “Are you taking any drugs?” What NHTSA’s science proves is, if you tell a trained, certified traffic-police Drug Recognition Expert that you have taken a drug, the officer will be highly accurate at predicting that you have taken a drug.
Scientifically, there is no such thing as overall “DIE accuracy.” The accuracy of the DIE is different for each drug. Statements about the scientific accuracy of a Defendant’s DRE/DIE test are valid and reliable only if they are based on scientific data for D’s particular drug.
Key elements of the traffic-police DIE are not standardized.
The Blood Test Must Also be Defended
In addition to the DREs testimony, you will also be facing a drug blood test. In fact, the DRE will try to bootstrap their investigation using the blood test results. This makes defending the DUI blood test all the more important.
Blood testing in a DUI drugs case will use a scientific method called “gas chromatography / mass spectroscopy. While this method is highly reliable, blood tests are not always performed properly. Due to human rather than machine error, blood test results in DUI drugs cases can also be scientifically flawed.
Because the blood test will be given so much weight by the judge, prosecutor and jury, it is essential that you find a top Michigan DUI lawyer knowledgable in blood testing for drugs. Most lawyers were not good at math and science, and this makes it difficult for many lawyers to understand this complicated science.
If the lawyer does not understand the science, then there is almost no way that lawyer can properly defend a DUI case involving drugs.
Because of all of this, if you are arrested in Michigan for drugged driving it is essential that you hire a Michigan DUI Lawyer who can show the jury how wrong the police evidence really is. Otherwise, you could be wrongfully convicted of a crime you never committed.
Contact the Barone Defense Firm today for your FREE no obligation case evaluation. We will evaluate your case, and explain how we can successfully defend it. Most initial consultations last an hour, and whether you retain the firm or not, you’ll learn a lot about what you’re facing.
[i] Kane, G. The Methodological Quality of Three Foundational Law Enforcement Drug Influence Evaluation Validation Studies. J Negat Results Biomed. 2013 Nov 4;12(1):16. doi:10.1186/1477-5751-12-16.