DUI Involving Drugs
Drunk driving offenses and/or license suspensions based upon the presence of illegal drugs can cause unique challenges within Indiana courtrooms. Many people associate Operating While Intoxicated offenses strictly in relation to the use of alcohol. In actuality, a sizeable number of owi cases I defend are not related to alleged impairment due to alcohol but from alleged impairment of Marijuana or other drugs; be the drugs prescribed or illegal.
Further, establishing criminal culpability for a prosecutor where illegal drugs are involved can often be far easier than in the conventional drinking and driving case. This is so due to the fact that one can suffer criminal sanctions merely from the detection of non prescribed drugs within the driver’s blood, irrespective of whether driver impairment can be proven.
Depending upon the type of drug involved, one’s guilt or innocence can often turn on the type of drug one had formerly ingested and the length of time traces of the specific drug will remain within the body. For example, it may prove frustrating to learn that the Marijuana smoked or ingested close to a month prior has given rise to criminal penalties by virtue of driving with its presence within the blood alone. For this reason challenges as to the admissibility of evidence in such cases often turns on exhaustive blood draw analysis in regard to the viability of proposed reports suggesting the presence of illegal drugs.
Not unlike the license suspension procedure as related to a drunk driving prosecution based upon a failed breath or blood draw for alcohol, the suspension procedure where drugs are involved is often comparable once a blood draw produces probable cause for the presence of Marijuana or other drugs within one’s bloodstream.
As a result of new mobile drug testing equipment provided to local law enforcement throughout Indiana, the amount of dui arrests as a result of drug use will continue to increase.
Indiana has began utilizing the SoToxa Mobile drug detection system during the investigation of individuals following a traffic stop. Like a portable breath test for alcohol conducted on the scene of an investigation for drunk driving, the SoToxa system now purportedly provides accurate mobile drug detection at the scene of an investigation. As a result, probable cause by which law enforcement can compel a search warrant for an admissible blood draw to detect drugs can now be established.
Remember that neither a portable test for alcohol or a SoToxa test for drugs are admissible into evidence by themselves. However, such failed portable testing for drugs and/or alcohol provides an often key component of probable cause. Armed with a failed portable test for alcohol and now drugs, law enforcement can now more readily have legal standing by which to demand a driver submit to a mandatory blood draw admissible in court or face mandatory license suspensions.
In circumstances where illegal drugs have been found within a vehicle in addition to its presence within a driver’s blood, all steps should be taken to determine whether an agreement can be concluded that can allow for the dismissal of an independent drug charge where trial is not warranted for the dui prosecution.
Whether a state has legalized or decriminalized Marijuana usage, I expect that arrests for driving with drugs within the bloodstream will be on the rise. With that reality it is important to seek our counsel as to how best to meet the challenge of effectively combating an Indiana drug based dui prosecution.