While you may have a basic understanding of DUI when you are facing arrest for having alcohol in your blood, the situation is much more complicated when you are accused of driving under the influence of drugs. Drug-related DUI poses a much greater risk of a false conviction because of the pseudo-science employed by so-called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). This evidence of questionable reliability is usually supported by a blood test that also is unreliable because it detects only the presence of metabolites of illegal narcotics or prescription drugs in the blood stream rather than actual impairment of driving ability.
While alcohol cases often turn on the results of a breath test where a driver has a BAC of .08 percent or higher, there is currently no similar “DUI per se” threshold for driving under the influence of drugs in Missouri. The fundamental difference between alcohol or drug based DUI cases is that while BAC testing of alcohol through breath testing is designed to indicate the amount of alcohol in one’s system at the time the test is conducted, blood testing for drugs can only detect the metabolites of a drug. This means that a person who fails a blood test for drugs because metabolites of a drug are present may not have consumed drugs for weeks or even months before driving. When metabolites of a drug like cocaine, cannabis, methamphetamine or other drugs are detected under these circumstances, the failed drug test does not mean you were impaired even slightly while behind the wheel.
Many states including Missouri now use Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to identify those who are actually impaired by a drug while driving. These specially trained police officers receive schooling in conducting physical examinations, medical examination, field sobriety tests, interviews and other forms of screening so that they can identify a driver that is impaired by drugs. However, the pseudo-science behind DREs makes this evidence highly suspect and open to challenge. DREs are not medical doctors so their observations of pupil dilations, blood pressure and other diagnostic symptoms of drug impairment are not necessarily reliable.
Although the types of suspect evidence routinely used in DUI drug cases are open to attack, states are increasingly passing so-called “zero tolerance laws.” These laws impose criminal liability if ANY level of metabolites for drugs that could impact driving ability is detected in the blood of a driver. The problem is that these laws essentially make it unlawful to drive if you have ingested a drug for weeks or even months because of the time it takes for drug metabolites to clear from the body. The bottom line is that an experienced Kansas City criminal defense attorney often can effectively challenge the evidence in a DUI drugs case. However, states are increasingly passing laws that make it easier for prosecutors and may seriously infringe on the Constitutional right to travel, especially for those taking medication like pain pills that are lawfully prescribed by a doctor.
Kansas City criminal defense attorney Stacey Schlimmer provides aggressive defense of her clients’ driving privileges and freedom. Our Kansas criminal defense law firm offers a confidential free consultation so call us today at 913-219-5424 or contact us online.