Driving Under the Influence of Drugs offenses are taken very seriously throughout Norfolk and the rest of Virginia. Additionally, there are certain things police officers look for when they are searching for evidence that someone is under the influence of drugs while operating a motor vehicle.
Below, a Norfolk drug DUI lawyer discusses how law enforcement officials make arrests for these charges and the process of the arrest. If you would like to learn more about drug DUI arrests and/or charges in Norfolk, don’t hesitate to call our Norfolk DUID lawyers today.
Law enforcement officers are generally looking for any signs of impairment. These can include slurred speech, blood shot or glassy eyes, stumbling, or inability to follow or remember directions well. The signs of impairment for drugs and alcohol are very similar, however oftentimes it may be obvious if it is one or the other.
For example, with alcohol, it is not uncommon for there to be a strong odor of alcohol coming from someone under the influence. Likewise, if they are under the influence of marijuana, then there could also be a strong odor of that or there may be drugs present in the vehicle in plain view that would suggest to the officer that what is causing the impairment is drugs rather than alcohol.
Officers use the field sobriety test in all cases related to driving under the influence in order to test for the signs of impairment. Since these signs of impairment are similar, whether it’s caused by drugs or alcohol, the tests are going to work well either way.
They provide a way for officers to not only test whether someone is physically in control of their body, but they also provide an opportunity for the officer to generally observe the driver to see whether they can follow directions, carry on a conversation, and also observe for general appearance, such as whether their eyes are affected in any way or if they appear alert and put together.
Being impaired by marijuana rather than a harder drug does not change the severity of the charge. Driving under the influence is a very serious charge in general and courts are not more understanding just because someone wasn’t using cocaine or heroin and they were using lesser intoxicating drugs, like marijuana.
The officer’s objective is just to show that someone was too impaired to drive regardless of the cause. If they are able to do that, then someone could be looking at a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs and their criminal record is not going to specify what type of drugs.
It’s more difficult to prove that the driver was operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs rather than alcohol because the standard is not as concrete as it is for alcohol. With alcohol, the legal limit is 0.08 and there is a presumption of intoxication for anyone found to be driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. With most drugs, the line is not as clear, especially since there isn’t just one drug. There is a large variety of different substances and it’s hard to compare impairment by one to impairment by another by a level of somebody’s blood. Also, alcohol affects most people fairly consistently in regards to the BAC level.
Drugs however, are not metabolized in the same way as alcohol is and can have drastically different effects on different people in comparable amounts.
The state needs to prove that someone was operating the vehicle while they were too impaired to safely be doing so. To prove this, they have to show that there were drugs present in the driver’s system and that these drugs would cause impairment.
They also have to show how they determined that there were drugs in the driver’s system, which is where the blood test comes in, then that the blood test was administered properly, and that the blood was properly handled when it was drawn up until after it was tested.
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