A drug DUI takes place when a driver is under the influence of an intoxicating substance, be it legal or illegal. A driver can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs whenever there is probable cause, determined by an objective police officer’s standard, to form the basis for the arrest.
Any type of illegal substance or an abuse of legal substances can lead to a drug DUI. Legal substances can even lead to a DUI when they are used as intended such that it would impair an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Over-the-counter medications like Benadryl can also lead to a DUI. If you have been charged with a Drug DUI, consider reaching out to an Arlington DUI drug lawyer for help.
In the State of Virginia, law enforcement generally tends to prioritize any type of DUI, because they do not want an individual who is impaired to be operating a motor vehicle. In terms of making an arrest, there is no difference between drug and alcohol DUIs. There must simply be probable cause that an individual is impaired, either by drugs or alcohol, such that they cannot operate a motor vehicle safely in the State of Virginia.
When officers pull drivers over, they are looking for signs of impairment. Certainly, clear evidence of drug use could play into an officer’s suspicion of whether or not an individual is driving under the impairment of a drug. There is no specific sign that officers are trained to look for, however, and there is no standardized field sobriety test for drug impairment.
Drug DUI stops are almost identical to alcohol-related DUI stops. The only difference is either that the individual does not display signs of having consumed alcohol, or the individual blows into the PBT or other types of breath tests and no alcohol is registered. Without evidence of alcohol intoxication, some other circumstance must lead the officer to conclude that the individual is under the influence of drugs.
No tests are standardized for drug impairment as training currently stands in the State of Virginia. The only standardized test on which offers are trained is the field sobriety test for the purposes of determining blood alcohol level. An officer could administer a blood test at the station to test for drugs, but there are no field sobriety tests or any specialized training that officers receive for drug-impaired DUI, specifically.
The accuracy of a blood test varies from test to test, but they usually identify how many milligrams of a certain substance is present in a liter of somebody’s blood. In these cases, an expert witness may testify in court to explain what effects that amount of a substance would have on a driver.
Marijuana-related cases are referred to as Drug DUI, and they are handled the same as any type of drug that is not alcohol. There is no indication in the Virginia legislature that there is going to be any type of tolerance for marijuana, whatsoever. Trends in the Commonwealth indicate that the government continues to take a harsh line toward possession of marijuana, and there is no indication that they will provide any type of leniency for individuals who are pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana.
In a drug DUI case, the officers are trying to prove that an individual was impaired during the course of their driving That proof is similar whether it is drugs or whether it is alcohol. For certain types of drugs, there are per se limits. For alcohol, there is the threshold of 0.08 – 0.15, where an individual can be presumed to be under the influence of alcohol. There is no per se amount for the presence of marijuana in somebody’s bloodstream.
With these standards in mind, an experienced Arlington DUI drug lawyer could help build a strong defense and pre-empt the prosecution’s arguments. If you are facing DUI drug charges in Arlington, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to explore your legal options.