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Maryland DUI Drug Testing

DUI drug arrests are a top priority for Maryland law enforcement officers. It is easy for officers to detect alcohol-related offenses, however, it is more difficult for officers to detect drug-related offenses.

To better understand the drug testing procedures used in Maryland DUI cases, it is important to consult with a Maryland DUID lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can build a defense to help combat the severity of your DUI drug offense.

An individual should always be prepared when they are being subjected to a Maryland DUI drug test, cementing the need for experienced legal counsel.

Law Enforcement Training

Law enforcement officers receive more training related to these kinds of charges, especially with the onset of prescription medication being abused and people ignoring warnings on prescription medication to not operate heavy machinery while they are taking them.

That often creates dangerous conditions on roadways, making it necessary for officers to crack down on these kinds of cases. When patrolling for such offenses, law enforcement officers will often employ a variety of Maryland DUI drug tests.

Determining Impairment

Due to the severity of DUI drug arrests in Maryland, most cases carry the possibility of jail time, high levels of points on an individual’s driver’s license, and lengthy periods of probation. The methods used to test for DUI drug issues in Maryland to get readings about what is in an individual’s system are different.

In DUI cases, for example, breathalyzer tests are commonly used to determine alcohol levels. However, in drug-related DUI arrests, breathalyzer tests are useless. Officers are tasked with using more blood and urinalysis tests to make determinations about a person’s intoxication or impairment.

Looking for Evidence

Evidence of drug use by a driver pulled over is evaluated by the officer in ways similar to a DUI case, minus the odor of alcohol. Slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, slow response times, and perhaps an odor of marijuana can indicate a person’s impairment.

The tests are not the same as the field sobriety tests used for a DUI. There are drug recognition tests (DRT) conducted by a drug recognition expert who is tasked with administering the tests and making determinations based on the tests as to whether a person is under the influence or impaired by drugs.

Regulations Regarding Marijuana

The attitude toward marijuana is different now than it was a couple of years ago. In October 2014, Maryland took steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, making it less significant to be charged with a small amount of marijuana.
In fact, small amounts of marijuana are now treated as civil offenses instead of criminal offenses. The only penalty that can be imposed is a fine; there is no criminal record.

Presenting Evidence to Contest

The defense might present evidence to contradict the state’s evidence. That could be a testimony to contradict the basis for the stop of the vehicle, or testimony that contradicts how the field sobriety tests were given or photographic evidence of the area where the tests were given.

The defense attorney may present evidence of contradiction between what the officer observed as clues on the field sobriety tests and what the driver or any witnesses observed about them.
With regard to breathalyzer tests or blood tests, the defense produces their own witnesses, expert or otherwise, that can testify to faulty calibrations on machinery or why the breathalyzer or blood test should not be relied on for a multitude of reasons.

While the defense presents its case, the government formulates its own questions about the facts of the case to cross-examine the defense’s witnesses in the same way the defense attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the state’s witnesses.

Closing Statements

Closing statements do not include evidence like in opening statements. Each side presents their version of what the testimony and evidence shows. A defense attorney might highlight different things than a prosecutor would highlight regarding the case.

The defense’s responsibility during their closing arguments is to show that there are problems with the government’s case. There may be reasons why the jury should doubt the government’s case. There may be holes in the government’s case and alternate theories that could be argued.

Length of the Trial

Maryland DUI trials can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several days. It depends on the kind of case, the evidence, and the number of witnesses.

Detecting Drug Impairment

The tests that law enforcement will administer when testing for a Maryland drug DUI include a divided attention test, which includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. There are dexterity tests and other tests associated with speech patterns administered by a drug recognition expert.

Drug recognition experts test for issues of dexterity, balance, and focus. More specific tests such as urinalysis and blood testing are also used by officers to determine what substance the person was under the influence of at the time of the crash.

Sometimes, the tests pick up things that are not illegal such as allergy medications. For that reason, it is important to make sure that a person works with a defense attorney who has access to medical professionals who can shed light on what the results mean.

Test Accuracy

Maryland DUI drug testing results can take several months. The labs in Maryland that review these tests are limited in their capacity and budget. Oftentimes, the period of time that results are delivered can be lengthy.

Maryland DUI drug testing cases are considered accurate by the court system. Courts often rely on these tests for determining criminal prosecutions. Drug tests can give false readings when the testing is not done properly, contaminations exist, or there is human error in the lab. Any number of things can affect the reliability of the test.

Types of  Commonly Implicated Drugs

The kinds of drugs that are most commonly seen in Maryland DUI drug testing are things like marijuana that are recreationally used. It is becoming more common to see people under the influence of prescription medications. People assume that they can operate a vehicle under the influence of prescription medications that are lawfully prescribed, but it is illegal to do so.

People do not recognize that alcohol is completely legal, but drinking alcohol to the level of impairment can prompt an individual to be arrested. In the same way, a person may have a prescription medication that is perfectly legal to possess and take. However, failing to heed the warnings of the side effects becomes the person’s responsibility and they can be charged for driving while impaired while using controlled substances.

Test Refusal in Maryland

A person can refuse Maryland DUI drug testing. There are negative inferences that can be drawn from somebody refusing to take the test. They can also suffer significant consequences from the Motor Vehicle Administration. But everybody has a right to refuse chemical testing as well as field sobriety testing.