Drugged Driving Cases Scientifically Flawed

If you are stopped under suspicion of drunk driving, and your breath test proves you’ve had nothing to drink, you still might be arrested for OWI in Michigan.  This is because the new frontier in law enforcement is the drug recognition “expert” or DRE.

Using a 12-step investigation the specially trained DRE police officer will 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.

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.

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.

Because of all of this, if you are arrested in Michigan for drugged driving it is essential that you hire a Michigan OWI attorney 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.  You will be glad you did!


[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.

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