Driving Under the Influence of Drugs – DUI Drugs
How do you Determine DUI Drugs?
- Driver appears impaired, but there is no smell of alcohol and the PBT or BT is low or “0”
- The driver is confused or gives an inconsistent history. “I was coming from my office Christmas Party.” [But it’s July!]
- Does poorly on DRE or Field Sobriety Tests
- Driver admits to drug use
What do you need to know to form an opinion that a Driver was DUI-Drugs?
- Fact Witness Reports – Reports of weaving or inconsistent driving behavior may indicate impairment.
- Police Officers’ Reports – Observations of the driver.
- A blood concentration? Some toxicologists believe that the results of a blood level test showing the presence of a drug or drugs is proof of impairment. It is not. The response of people to drugs is so varied, that no general conclusions can be drawn from a drug blood level.
Writing in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology 2012;36:353–356, Gary M. Reisfield, Bruce A. Goldberger, Mark S. Gold and Robert L. DuPont concluded that: “Drug-related impairment, however, cannot be inferred solely on the basis of the presence of drugs in biological fluids.”
(See: The Mirage of Impairing Drug Concentration Thresholds: A Rationale for Zero Tolerance Per Se Driving under the Influence of Drugs Laws, Journal of Analytical Toxicology 2012;36:353–356).
How do you Determine DUI Drugs? (continued)
- A urine test? Don’t be ridiculous! – the presence of a drug in urine shows only prior exposure. Anyone who testifies that the presence of a drug in urine proves impairment is either ignorant or a liar! Here’s why:
Look at this schematic diagram of the urinary system.
Urine is formed in the kidney and stored in the bladder. There is no connection between the bladder and the blood stream. Drugs in urine cannot get into the blood unless you have a kidney or bladder medical condition that allows that to happen, and then you are ill and may have uremia. The bladder is just a reservoir to hold the urine until you “relieve yourself.”
More factors to consider:
- A knowledge of:
- The range of half-lives?
- When the drug was taken?
- By which route? Oral, injected, smoked, snorted
- At what dose?
- For how long?
- Whether tolerance has developed?
- Other drugs that affect metabolism!
Pharmacologic factors in DUI Drugs
In general, blood levels of a drug are not useful in determining whether or not a person is impaired on that drug. The reason is that people differ so greatly in their responses to drugs and their capacity to develop tolerance that blood levels are just not definitive. What is helpful are signs of impairment like lack of coordination, slurred speech, difficulty walking and other signs of impairment.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs), despite the reliance of law enforcement and government experts on these, are not that useful because many people cannot perform FSTs when they are sober (See: Field Sobriety Tests: Are they Designed for Failure? Cole, S. and Nowaczyk, R. Perceptual and Motor Skills, (1994); 78:98-104.). Could you ride your bicycle or ice skate the first time you tried? Moreover, police officers are prone to what is called “operator bias” and tend to fail just about everyone. There are many court opinions where the judge has expressed outrage when a driver has “missed” one step on the 9-step walk and turn test and the officer “failed” the driver.
In one of my seminars for judges, a young female judge was doing the 9-step walk and turn test, and had her arms out and was “teetering” left and right. As she continued to walk, she said, “This is hard.” When she finished, she looked at the trooper and asked, “Did I pass?” And he said “Yes.” If that was you or me, we would still be in prison! Pass, my a**!
Police Officers do HGN and the Romberg Test different than Doctors do.
This is a very important point! If they do not do the test according to the specifications of the “relevant scientific discipline” then the test method is not generally accepted by the relevant scientific discipline (physicians, neurologists and pharmacologists) and the method fails to meet the standards of both Frye and Daubert. Hold a pre-trial evidentiary hearing and get HGN and the Romberg Test thrown out.