Somerset DUI Drug Lawyer
Under Maryland law, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol as well as under the influence of drugs. There are a variety of different ways that a person can be charged with a DUI. A person could even be charged with driving under the influence of prescribed drugs taken in the manner in which they were prescribed if the taking of those prescribed drugs impacted their ability to safely operate their car. A person can also be convicted of a DUI if they have taken illegal drugs. They will likely receive both a DUI charge for driving under the influence as well as possession of an illicit substance.
There are a variety of ways you could be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, and if you are facing charges, the help of an experienced Somerset DUI attorney is essential in order to properly build a defense for your case. A Somerset DUI drug lawyer will be able to explain the potential penalties and consequences along with a DUI drug conviction and will best know how to protect your rights.
Driving While Impaired for a Drug-Related Impairment
Someone can be charged with driving while impaired for a drug-related impairment, and in order to do so, the officer must have probable cause to believe someone was driving while impaired by drugs in order to make the arrest. For a DUI involving alcohol impairment, the state does not have to prove any inability to drive the vehicle safely. A defendant can be convicted of a DUI with alcohol and the testimony may be that the defendant was able to operate the motor vehicle well.
A DUI drug conviction is more complicated than being convicted of a DUI of alcohol impairment because driving while impaired by drugs requires the state to prove the additional element that the defendant cannot drive the vehicle safely. A Somerset DUI drug lawyer can assist in building the strongest defense possible to refute the evidence presented at court.
Potentially for a DUI with alcohol, the state can get the person convicted and there will be no evidence that the defendant was not driving their vehicle safely. However, in order to convict someone of driving while impaired by drugs, the state has to prove the defendant was not able to operate the vehicle safely. This evidence is often shown by way of testimony, where the officer testifies to seeing the defendant commit several moving violations like swerving, not staying in their lane, crossing the center line, or riding up on the curb. A DUI drug attorney in Somerset can be of great assistance in understanding the difference between DUI’s with drugs and alcohol and their evidentiary requirements.
The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are similar for DUI charges for alcohol. The maximum penalty for driving under the influence of prescription drugs or drugs and alcohol is two months and/or a $500 fine. If the person is convicted of driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, the maximum penalty is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. A distinction is made as to whether or not the person is driving while impaired by drugs that are prescribed to them versus being convicted of driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.
The only way authorities can prove the presence of a particular drug or any drug would be by conducting a blood test. However, even blood tests are imperfect as they only show that a drug was present at some point in the person’s system, not necessarily at the time the individual was pulled over. When investigating a potential DUI with drugs, the law enforcement officer may decide to call in a drug recognition expert, often referred to as a DRE. A DRE is a police officer who has the same police training as any other police officer but has also attended training and passed certain tests, whereby they are determined to be able to perform an evaluation to see if someone is under the influence of a drug.
This happens often when an officer pulls over a car and the person driving seems to be having some sort of issues and the officer does not smell any alcohol. They may decide if the breathalyzer returns with a 0.0 BAC that they want to have a drug recognition expert come in and perform an evaluation of the defendant to see if they are under the influence of any drugs. In this case, they are checking the person’s pulse and temperature, and they will see if the person’s muscles are flaccid, because certain classifications of drugs are going to going to affect a person physically. Some drugs will cause a person’s pulse to rise. Other classifications of drugs will cause a person’s pulse to be very low, and they will check this as well. It is helpful to have a Somerset DUI drug attorney early in a case so they can defend their client’s rights through each process of their case.
Refusing to Test
A DRE will perform this drug evaluation of 12 or 13 steps, but ultimately the final step is that they ask the person for a blood test. An individual does not need to consent to a blood test, but it is possible that the state will get a warrant to draw blood. Also under the law, if the person is involved in a motor vehicle accident where another person has been seriously injured, they do not have a choice that a blood test can be done without their consent.
Prescription Drug Charges
A person can be charged with driving under the influence of legal or prescribed drugs, but there is a defense in Maryland statutory that allows a Somerset DUI drug lawyer to argue they were not aware that while taking those drugs they would not be able to operate their vehicle safely. It can be very difficult to succeed with that defense because prescription medications have stickers everywhere that advise the person taking the medication about the potential side effects. For example, there are stickers that say the prescription may cause drowsiness. Even specifically that it will impact the person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
This defense can be used successfully for individuals who were already taking one or two prescribed medications. Perhaps they were not familiar with those medicines or were not aware the drug interactions could cause drowsiness or the inability to operate the vehicle safely. It is important for anyone taking prescription drugs to find out what the potential drug interaction consequences could be. Taking one particular drug may not cause drowsiness or impact a person’s ability to stay focused and aware, but that drug combined with taking any additional drugs could change everything. It is essential to have an experienced DUI drug attorney in Somerset to help explain a person’s rights in any of these particular cases.
Preparing a Defense
When preparing a defense, the first thing an attorney and client should do when charged with a drug DUI is have the Somerset DUI drug attorney interview them to determine what, if any, drugs that person was taking or prescribed. This could lead to conversing with the person’s doctor and getting medical records to show that the person did not realize what those drugs taken in certain combinations could impact their ability to operate a car.
This initial meeting and subsequent questioning is essential in building a defense, they client can take a long time, as the attorney will want to learn as much as they can about the client and that includes their physical health as well as their mental health. It also includes if they are under the care of any doctors and for what, did they have any diagnosis and whether it is some sort of physical impairment or a mental health issue, and what sort of drugs have been prescribed and if they are taking them as directed.
Voluntary intoxication is a possible defense used to negate what is called a specific intent crime. For example, if somebody is charged with committing crimes and they were incredibly out of their mind intoxicated at the time they committed the crimes so that they were not able to form a specific intent, potentially they could be found not guilty of those crimes that require the state to prove a specific intent crime.
Therefore, if the person was incredibly intoxicated and could not form that specific intent, they cannot be convicted of those burglary charges that require proof of a specific intent. However, a lot of offenses only require the state to prove a general intent. They do not have to prove a specific intent, so even if a person is incredibly intoxicated, it will not rise to the level of a defense for certain kinds of crimes. While this can be used as a potential defense, it is essential to have a Somerset DUI drug attorney explain and assist in building a variety of defenses.