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Can I Be Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?

DUI Attorney

Operating a motor vehicle comes with a great deal of responsibility. For starters, you need to follow local traffic laws and make sure you drive with a clear and level head. If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence, and you haven’t had a sip of alcohol, there may be another culprit: drugs. Whether you take a prescription, something over the counter or dabble in the illegal kind, drugs can affect your ability to perform basic tasks including driving. Even though there may not be a breathalyzer test for drugs, a police officer can arrest you for it. Here is some insight into how driving under the influence of a drug can land you in jail.

Drug Recognition Experts

Over 40 states have police officers known as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who use unique training to detect whether someone is under the influence of a drug. Some of the cues they look for include:

  • Behavior – physical and verbal
  • Eye movement
  • Mouth movement
  • Vital signs

The examination by a DRE is typically done after arrest in the precinct or jail. It can take up to an hour and may lead to a warrant for urinalysis or blood work to confirm the suspicion.

Illegal Drugs or Legal Drugs

When you are impaired by drugs, the kind only matters in terms of additional charges. If you do not take illegal drugs, for example, but you do take a prescription like Ambien, you can still get arrested, but you won’t get possession charges (unless you have the pills with you in something other than the prescription bottle). In terms of driving while impaired, it doesn’t make any difference to a police officer whether the drug is a prescription or illegal. The result is still you are not able to safely operate a motor vehicle due to diminished capacity.

Prosecution of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

It is generally more challenging to prosecute a DUI when it relates to drug use versus one caused by alcohol. That is due mostly to the lack of immediate testing and sensory cues that lead officers to make arrests in alcohol-related stops. If the impairment is enough to cause physical impairment, officers may put you through field sobriety testing just as they do for those they believe to be impaired by alcohol. However, there are still some states that do not have laws that address drug impairment while driving. Thus, these states may have a harder time prosecuting offenders.

If you get pulled over and are under the influence of any drug, you may find yourself getting arrested. The best thing you can do is get yourself a DUI attorney in Washington, DC who can help defend your actions and get you off the hook.

Thanks to The Lawfirm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and DUI charges involving drugs.

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