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 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.
In such circumstances, a minimum license suspension of one hundred eighty (180) days must be imposed by a presiding judge for the mere presence of illegal drugs within one’s bloodstream at the time of an alleged operation of a motor vehicle.
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 close to a month prior has given rise to criminal penalties and mandatory license suspensions 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.
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 can be quite different. In cases where a “nexus” ( a legal term meaning connection) exists between drugs found within a vehicle and a crime committed, (ex. using a vehicle to deal drugs) a driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of one hundred eighty (180) days. However, unlike credit given toward a potential minimum suspension of ninety (90) days that would begin at one’s Initial Hearing for a dui, no such credit would be given toward such a one hundred eighty (180) day drug related suspension until the criminal prosecution has been concluded. In such circumstances any attempt to secure a specialized license can only be first considered after the drug based conviction; often long after the dui based administrative suspension has been in effect.
As a result, 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.