If someone is pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, Alexandria law enforcement officials will conduct tests to determine the person’s sobriety. The more in-depth tests used in these types of cases are different from those used in alcohol-related DUI cases.
To learn more about the drugs tests used by local law enforcement officials and how they are different from regular DUI tests, call and speak to an Alexandria drug DUI lawyer.
There is no breathalyzer test to show drug impairment. The police officer uses a standard field sobriety test to measure a person’s coordination, their ability to follow instructions, and their ability to perform on the test. There is no breathalyzer test of any kind in Virginia that measures drug consumption.
The practical effect of this is that a DUI stop for drugs is very much the same as a DUI alcohol stop. The person is asked to perform some field sobriety tests. They are asked about their recent drug consumption and eventually, the person is arrested.
Because there is no machine that measures the breath to determine the drug content in someone’s system, the officers have the person’s blood drawn at an Alexandria hospital and sent to the lab to be analyzed. Once the blood is analyzed and if it is positive for drugs, that evidence is used against the person at the trial.
The tests on the side of the road are always administered by the arresting officer. Usually, the person conducting tests of any kind in a DUI case is the arresting officer who pulled the driver over. These are usually patrol officers in the street. Any Alexandria police officer can oversee the test as long as they are trained in the test, as all officers should be.
In most cases, the officer who pulls a person over is the arresting officer and administers the test. In some cases, the officer may call for backup and someone else conducts the test. Usually, the test is performed by the arresting officer and the officer who pulled the driver over.
DUI drug cases are typically implicated in cases by marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and sleeping aids such as Ambien or similar drugs. These seem to be the most common DUI drug cases. Marijuana is probably commonly charged because it is a common drug.
Many people use marijuana even though it is illegal in Alexandria and throughout Virginia. Sleeping aids often are charged because the effects are so noticeable. People fall asleep or are completely incoherent when using sleeping aids. The same is true for heroin.
When people are using heroin, they have a hard time with coordination and speech, and controlling themselves in their car. Cocaine is often charged because it is also prevalent. Although the effects on the driving behavior may be slightly less than the heroin or sleeping drugs, cocaine can still affect driving behavior. It is a drug that can cause a person to drive faster, to make a mistake in judgment, and the driver is often charged as well.
Regardless of the drug that was in someone’s system when they were pulled over and arrested, an important step someone can take is to contact a local DUI drug lawyer in Alexandria to help you build a defense.
The drug tests for certain types of drugs in a person’s system are for illegal drugs. However, they can still test for legally prescribed drugs that are not over-the-counter, such as Ambien or something similar. There is a list of drugs tested for. If any of the drugs in a person’s system contain that type of drug; it shows up on the results. There are some legal drugs that show up in a lab result test even though they are legal because they have been known to affect and impair somebody’s ability to drive.
The drug tests in Alexandria are pretty accurate. They are analyzed by someone with a degree, typically a doctor or someone with a forensic science degree. Their sole job is to analyze blood samples to determine the level of drug concentration. They know what they are looking for and the tests tend to be reliable. Of course, in any human endeavor, there is error involved.
There is human error as far as transferring the blood from the hospital to the lab. If it’s been contaminated along the way, that could result in a false positive. A human error could exist at the lab stage and the person could make a mistake despite the double checking that goes on at the lab. The lab could make an error.
Additionally, sometimes drugs test falsely positive for certain types of drugs although, this is fairly rare. It is very difficult to prove this has happened in Alexandria, but there are cases in which mistakes are made and the blood sample is analyzed and drugs are determined to be in a person’s system that aren’t actually in their system.
For the field sobriety tests, Alexandria police officers know immediately how the person performed on them. However, after a person is arrested for a DUI drug case, they are taken in to have their blood drawn and sent to the lab to be analyzed. The analysis is used in courts to show that the person had drugs in their system.
The length of time that it takes to get the labs back from the Department of Forensic Science varies, because the Department of Forensic Science is very burdened by cases. It usually takes about two to three months to get the lab results back from the Department of Forensic Science for the police and prosecutor to go forward in a DUI drug-related case.
Once a driver is pulled over, they are asked to perform field sobriety tests on the side of the road. A person may refuse these tests in Virginia; there is no obligation to take these tests. If someone refuses to have their blood taken, they can be charged with a refusal offense, a new civil violation, which requires a mandatory one-year loss of license. And if so, a conviction.
If a person refuses the blood test, the officers can get a search warrant to obtain their blood, if they believe the person was driving under the influence of drugs.
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