People usually associate a DUI with drunk driving or failing to submit to a breath-alcohol test. Although DUI charges usually involve alcohol consumption, they can also stem from drug use. Drug DUI cases commonly involve prescription drugs such as Xanax and hydrocodone, and illegal drugs like marijuana and cocaine. Such cases often turn on the reliability of the arresting officer’s opinion that the driver was under the influence of drugs and not safe to drive.
Question Officer’s Competence
Because drug DUI cases are relatively uncommon, many Florida police officers lack the experience or skills to determine whether a driver is truly drug-impaired. Consequently, the arresting officer’s competence is often an issue in a drug DUI case. A skilled drug DUI attorney will investigate the officer’s qualifications for inadequacies and leverage them during plea bargain negotiations or trial cross-examination.
Attack DRE Conclusions
Now some Florida police officers are certified Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). They are specially trained to administer certain tests and exercises designed to help them differentiate between drug intoxication and medical/mental conditions that mimic intoxication. To recognize the differences, the officer must follow standard test procedures exactly. An experienced criminal defense attorney will find and exploit any deviations that could discredit the DRE officer’s findings.
No Probable Cause
The prosecutor must show that the driver was impaired by drugs at the time the officer stopped him. Because marijuana, cocaine and other drugs stay in a person’s bloodstream for several days or weeks after the “high” is gone, an able driver could test positive for drugs that he ingested long before the arrest. In this situation, an aggressive DUI attorney will argue the absence of probable cause for the stop and the arrest if the driver had exhibited no signs of drug impairment.
Drug DUI Lawyer
Because there is no “legal limit” in drug DUI cases, they often hinge on the arresting officer’s subjective opinion as to whether a driver was under the influence of drugs and was therefore unfit to drive at the time of the stop. Drivers accused of drug DUI should retain a competent DUI defense attorney who will find all grounds on which to invalidate the officer’s judgment and refute the charge.