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How Do the Police Test for Drugged Driving?

Oct 12, 2017 by Mike McKneely in Criminal Defense, DUI

In the State of California, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) are both illegal activities as designated under the California Vehicle Code. Drugged driving involves the use of controlled substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription and over-the-counter medications, so much that their use impairs a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Police in California and other states are gaining experience administering drugged driving tests that include some of the familiar qualities of DUI testing protocol.

A police stop for suspicion of DUID begins in similar fashion to other traffic encounters. The officer will signal the driver to pull over, approach the window, start to ask questions, and look for indications as to whether the driver is intoxicated.

If you have been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, it’s important to obtain the services of a trusted and experienced DUI/DUID attorney. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer knows how to fight the prosecution’s case in a highly skilled and vigorous manner that produces favorable results on your behalf.

Call experienced criminal defense attorney Mike McKneely at (559) 443-7442 today, or send him a message online to set up a free consultation about your case.

Testing Methods Police Use to Determine DUID

Many are familiar with the criteria used to measure the level of intoxication due to alcohol in a person’s system. In California, a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.8 percent or more indicates an individual is driving under the influence (DUI) under the law. However, there is no current standardized drugged driving test available that police can administer at the scene of a traffic stop to determine a driver’s specific level of impairment due to the presence of drugs.

Police are required to subjectively determine if an arrest for DUID is warranted. No quantifiable or scientific evidence is required for the police to make an arrest for DUID. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation it is important that you obtain experienced legal counsel in order to protect your rights.

Some of the testing methods used by police to help determine whether to arrest for DUID include:

  • Observations. An officer’s observations of the driver play a significant role in determining whether or not an arrest will be made. Some of these observations include speeding, erratic driving, failing to stop at traffic signs and red lights, as well as the smell of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. Officers who have been trained to recognize key symptoms of drug impairment will begin their drugged driving test procedures by observing these indicators along with others, including blank stares and bloodshot eyes.

    If an officer suspects you may be driving under the influence of drugs, they may ask you a number of questions about what you have been doing that day. It’s important to remember that any information you give an officer may be used against you in a court of law. Unless you are being questioned and examined at a checkpoint, the law enforcement officer may already suspect you of DUID based on certain observed characteristics of your driving.

  • Field Sobriety. Once an officer suspects you are driving under the influence of drugs, you may be asked to submit to roadside sobriety tests. As you attempt to complete each test, the officer will look for indications of impairment. Drivers are not required to submit to these tests – they are voluntary. However, if you do not submit to these tests, the officer may require you to submit to a blood test.
  • Saliva Drug Swab. Although only used in select locations thus far, the State of California has recently increased its efforts to fight the problem of drugged driving by approving a new method of detecting the presence of drugs in drivers’ systems. This is done through the use of oral swab tests which are then analyzed by a machine that detects the presence of various types of controlled substances.

    The general procedure for this drugged driving test is as follows: the driver is given a mouth swab that is placed in their mouth for a short period of time. The swab is then placed into a device – called the DDS2 – with a testing solution. Within a few minutes the machine detects the presence of illegal substances in the driver’s saliva.

    These oral swab tests are voluntary. However, if the driver refuses to take the test, the officer may require the driver to submit to a blood test.

  • No Legal Limit Defines DUID

    Under California law, there is currently no legal limit that tells law enforcement that the drugs in a driver’s system amount to impairment. This is unlike the standards established in California and across the nation for determining an alcohol DUI.

    Instead, police officers and prosecutors must utilize the various available drugged driving test procedures including observation, field sobriety tests, and the newest option but still limited in use – saliva drug swab tests.

    Consequences of a DUID Conviction in California

    The penalties for the conviction of a DUID charge can include significant fines, jail or prison time, license suspension, and more. Under California law, the same general punishments apply for DUID as they do for DUI. Upon conviction, you may be required to take one or more DUI education courses. As well, you will have a DUI on your record. Additionally, if you don’t lose your license, your insurance premiums are likely to increase.

    Contact an Experienced California DUI/DUID Attorney

    Your driving privileges and freedom are on the line if you’ve been charged with a DUID. Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer understands what it takes to vigorously and intelligently defend you against the prosecution’s case by using the most appropriate and effective legal strategies to fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf.

    Call attorney Mike McKneely today at (559) 443-7442 to set up a free case evaluation.

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