Proving Impairment in Manassas DUI Drug Cases
If pulled over and suspected of being under the influence of drugs or a controlled substance, there are a variety methods by which your alleged impairment may be attempted to be proven. The following is information on each of these methods, and what a Manassas DUI drug lawyer can do to defend you. Call today to learn more.
What The State Needs to Prove
In a drug DUI case, the state has to prove two things. The first is that an individual was operating a motor vehicle. The second is that they are under the influence of drugs. This can be proved in two different ways. One of the ways if by showing that a blood test demonstrates an amount of an illegal drug in the individual’s blood stream which is above the amount permitted under the law.
A second way that they can show this is by demonstrating that there are some drugs or combination of drugs in an individual system that combine or act alone to impair the individual sufficiently that it is not safe for them to drive.
In the second example, the government will typically use an expert witness to explain to the court what the drugs in that individual’s system were and how they were affecting that individual at the time they were stopped by police.
Testing For Impairment
There is a state police approved blood test which is administered after an individual has been arrested for DUI if there is suspicion that the individual has drugs in their system. The way that this works is that the accused is transported to a local hospital where a medical professional such as a doctor, nurse or other approved medical professional will draw blood using an approved kit that the officer provides. In some cases this can be done at the detention center or police station if the appropriate medical personnel are present. The blood samples are then given back to the police officer who will seal the container and send it to the Department of Forensics for analysis.
Can These Tests Pick Up Allergy Medication and Other Legal Substances?
The blood tests currently use in Virginia are designed to test for a range of illegal substances. In some rare cases, over-the-counter drugs or prescription drugs which are chemically similar to illegal drugs may give a false positive on the drug test. This is why it’s important if this is the circumstance in your case to review the matter with your lawyer who may involve a forensic scientist or doctor as an expert in the case to give testimony to the court which would explain this.
Accuracy of Blood Tests
The drug tests in DUI cases are very accurate for the things that they’re testing for. All of the most common schedule 1 and 2 drugs as well as things like marijuana are commonly detected by these tests. They are not as good at detecting other rare drugs and in some cases, they will detect things that are prescription or over-the-counter which are not illegal.
Only an experienced attorney working with their expert on cases like those can help explain to the court what drugs were in an individual’s system and what effect they may have had.
Refusing Blood Tests in Virginia
You can always refuse to take a breathalyzer test or a blood test when you’re charged with a DUI. However, Virginia’s implied consent laws say that if an individual is arrested for a DUI and there’s probable cause for that arrest, that they must take the test or face a 12-month loss of license.
The difficulty here is that whereas a person who is convicted for DUI will lose their license for 12 months but get a restricted driver’s license that will let them drive to work and a number of other places; if the individual is convicted of a refusal, then they will still lose their license for 12 months but will not be able to get a restricted driver’s license for a period of a year. So, there is a significant consequence to not taking the test.
Other Evidence That May Be Used
In addition to the blood test an officer will be looking for evidence of drug use during the initial stop. The first thing the officer will be looking for at this point is driving behavior such as whether the individual is driving erratically or driving too slow for conditions or seems to display confusion in some way.
The officer is next looking for the demeanor and appearance of the individual as the stop begins. This is everything from how an individual speaks, to whether their words are slurred, whether they’re disheveled in appearance, or whether their eyes are bloodshot and glassy. An officer will also in many cases be attempting to detect whether there is any smell. Whereas most drugs don’t have a strong smell, drugs like marijuana do. In addition to this, officers conduct field sobriety tests just as in an alcohol DUI to determine the level to which a person may be impaired by a drug or combination of drugs that they have consumed.