Tests Used in Salisbury DUID Cases
In DUI cases where drug use is suspected, law enforcement officers may administer a blood test to determine whether or not someone is under the influence. Below, a Salisbury drug DUI lawyer discusses this test and what you should know if you are accused. To learn more, call and schedule a consultation today.
Accuracy of Drug Tests in Drug DUI Cases
It’s not necessarily a question of accuracy in regards to a blood test. A blood test can include a toxicology screen, and that would show if there was some illegal drug in the driver’s system. Blood test results will only show that there was a substance present within the driver’s system, not whether that substance was impacting the person’s ability to drive.
When it comes to this physical examination portion, those test results may not necessarily be accurate at all. For example, the DRE is going to be examining things like pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature and muscle tone. An individual may have a disease, condition, or disability that impacts their blood pressure, their heart rate, or their muscle tone.
As a result, the DRE’s physical examination is one thing that a judge can consider but will not take as absolute evidence that the driver has consumed a drug.
Ability of Tests To Pick Up Legal Medications
The blood test result may not be able to pick up legal drugs. However, the drug recognition expert’s examination might determine that there’s a substance like an allergy medication causing impairment. The DRE would make that determination based on evidence found in their physical examination, which would indicate irregularities in heart rate or blood pressure.
Refusing to Take Drug Tests in Maryland
A driver has the right to refuse to perform any tests the officer gives. He cannot be forced or compelled to take those tests, and the driver does have the right to refuse to participate in these tests.
How Long Blood Test Results Take
It depends. A couple of years ago, there was a backlog in the analysis of blood tests. The toxicology exam, which is the last part of the drug recognition expert examination, was taking months to receive. In some cases, the judge would throw the case out or disregard the testimony of the DRE because the toxicology report was not completed. But typically, test results should be received within a couple of months.
Issues With Blood Tests
A drug recognition expert’s physical analysis can be wrong in a few ways. For example, in the DRE’s examination, he will examine the driver’s eyes to look for something called nystagmus. Nystagmus is the movement of the eye. In a healthy individual not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, their eyes will be able to track any visual stimulus in a very smooth and fluid way. If a person is under the influence of alcohol, the movement of the eye will be somewhat jerky and erratic.
The police may conduct an Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test if they observe that a person’s eyes are moving erratically. The officer may conclude that the driver is under the influence of some substance, but the erratic eye movement could also be caused by some sort of disability that causes nystagmus, or the person may naturally have nystagmus.
The same is true of blood pressure. An individual may simply have abnormal blood pressure, which may falsely indicate to police that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Probably the most exaggerated example is an individual who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which causes issues with muscle control and speech.
Therefore, these tests could be helpful to police, but they should never be taken as absolute proof that a driver is under the influence of drugs.
Difficulty of Proving The Presence of Drugs
Proving the presence of drugs is very difficult for several different reasons. For one, even if authorities get a blood test done and that blood test shows there is a presence of drugs in the person’s system, that does not equal proof that the drugs were in the defendant’s system to such a high level that it impacted their ability to drive safely.
The best example of this is a blood test that shows the presence of marijuana THC in somebody’s blood. THC will remain in a person’s blood for up to 30 days after consuming marijuana. That does not mean that during that 30-day time frame that the individual is still somehow under the influence of marijuana to the extent that it would impact their ability to drive a car.
So a test for the presence of drugs might confirm a suspicion that the person had taken the drug but it does not necessarily rise to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that those drugs or that drug was impacting the defendant’s ability to drive a car.
How Officers Determine Whether A Drug Test Should be Taken
So a lot of times what will happen is if a law enforcement officer stops a car, has contact with a driver and suspects that the driver is under the influence of something, the first thing that the officer will probably do is rule out alcohol as being a likely factor. The officer would do that by determining whether or not there was an odor of an alcoholic beverage on the defendant’s breath. If the officer does not smell alcohol, the next step would be to ask the defendant to take a breath test. If the defendant submits to a breath test, and the breath test result is a 0.0 then that is going to confirm the officer’s suspicion that alcohol is not a factor.