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What Happens If The Officer Pulls You Over On Suspicion Of A Drug Related DUI?


Once an officer pulls a person over on suspicion of a drug related DUI, the first thing that they will do is ask the driver if they have taken any illegal drugs or if they’re on any medication. They’re also going to ask some other general questions in order to see if they can identify clues as to what type of drug they may be on. No matter how well they’re trained, it’s very difficult for any officer to figure out what drug someone may be on. They may suspect many of them, but studies have shown that the odds of an officer figuring out exactly what drug it is (if any) are very low. The standards that an officer must meet in order to be qualified to make these judgments are very low, as are the percentages that they need to get right during training.

The officers are gathering evidence that will eventually give them reason to take further action. Typically, a blood test is used to help determine what substance the driver has taken so that the DA’s office can properly make the impairment charge for a drug DUI. The officer is asking standard questions of the driver, such as where they are coming from and where they are going. They will also ask for their driver’s license, and they will want the driver to step out of the vehicle for further evaluation. At first, they are trying to see if they can smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage. If they think someone is drunk as well as under the influence of a drug, then they might administer a breath test.

If they suspect drugs, then they are typically going to require a blood test in order to determine the type and (if possible) the amount of the drug in the person’s system. That will help them to determine whether or not the drug caused impairment. Some officers are trained in DUI detection and may know a little bit about the drugs. Other officers may have received additional training to help them determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs, and if so, what types of drugs they might be.

What Kind Of Training Do The Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) Go Through?

Drug recognition experts complete a relatively lengthy training course taught by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So there are standard DUI courses, as well as more advanced drug courses. The more advanced drug courses require more hours than the basic courses, and will give the officer more tools to help determine whether or not someone may be under the influence or impaired by drugs. However, by no means is the training a certain science- it’s a very rough science. Sometimes the officers predict that it’s one drug when it is really another (or none at all).

There are a lot factors that can lead to the same signs as would the influence of drugs, such as being tired, having had a long day, being sick, or dealing with an emotional issue. The drug recognition expert course teaches officers to look for certain signs and clues in order to come to a conclusion. They’re being trained to run someone through the normal field sobriety tests that are recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for an alcohol evaluation. They also add in other tasks, like checking a person’s pulse at different times, examining their eyes, and putting someone in a dark room with a flash light to examine their pupil sizes. So the drug recognition experts utilize a few additional tests, but they could use a lot more training.

It’s hard to conduct real training in these cases because the availability of actual people who are on actual drugs is either low and/or ill-timed for trainees. In other words, you’re not going to have someone taking serious drugs just to train these officers. As a result, a lot of training is done in the field, by video or by other means. There have even been cases in which drug recognition experts don’t think that a person’s under the influence of drugs, and are later proven wrong by the blood test. We can get all sorts of results with drug cases, and that’s why many states do not have per se limits; it’s just too hard to interpret. It’s a lot harder than alcohol.

For more information on Drug Related DUI In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

Aaron Bortel

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