Your Case Could Be Dismissed if You’ve Been Arrested or Charged with DUI or DWI Due to Drugs

Woman pulled over by policeAs we have frequently discussed here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, you can be arrested, charged, or convicted of driving while intoxicated as the result of drugs or marijuana in the same way you can be charged for drunk driving.  New Jersey’s DUI and DWI laws include any form of intoxication – even from prescription medications or other legal drugs.

At the same time, as we have also discussed before on the Edward M. Janzekovich DUI/DWI blog, there are few, if any, reliable methods of testing for drug intoxication.  Unlike drunk driving, which can be tested with a state mandated and prescribed breathalyzer test that follows strict rules, there are no magic tests that can detect drugged driving or current intoxication due to marijuana or other drugs.

Accordingly, the government is often forced to rely on a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to determine if someone is actually legally impaired after he or she has been arrested.  The state must then use circumstantial or observational evidence – as opposed to scientific evidence – to support their case that the driver was actually intoxicated AT THE TIME that he or she was operating the vehicle.  This type of evidence can be extremely unreliable.  A good attorney will know how to attack and defend against any use of this evidence.  In the end, a good attorney may even be able to get the case dismissed completely.

Many believe that the work of good attorneys in pointing out the flaws in prosecuting drugged driving cases is leading to more and more DUI/DWI cases being dismissed every year.

Why Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are Unreliable

Since there is currently no technology that would allow a police officer to quickly determine whether or not a driver has been driving under the influence of many drugs, local police departments must rely on DREs.  According to recent statistic, New Jersey has more than 500 drug recognition experts— more than any other state except California.

A DRE is a police officer who has special training in identifying if someone is intoxicated or impaired.  No blood, urine, or breath tests are involved.  The DRE may also receive training to determine what kind of drugs the person is on.

Since DREs rely on mostly subjective observations, their abilities are increasingly being called into question. Some of the things a DRE looks for may include droopy eyelids, dilated pupils, a racing pulse, red eyes, or slowed involuntary responses to stimuli.  However, no two DREs are exactly the same.  What one DRE might think is slow may not be considered slow by another DRE.

For example, one part of the DRE standard evaluation includes observations regarding muscle tone – whether a driver’s muscles appear loose, tight, rigid, or flaccid.  Defense attorneys and experts have called into question this test, because there is no clear distinction between these muscle states and any differences in muscle tone can be caused by more than drugs.

Challenges in Court Have Resulted in Dismissals

For the reasons stated above, as well as for many other reasons, the reliability of DREs is being called into question – in New Jersey courts and in other places around the country.  As previously discussed on this blog, there has even been a federal court case challenging the reliability of DREs.  Many defendants have been wrongfully accused of driving under the influence of drugs, based on DRE evidence, even though subsequent blood tests showed no drugs in the system whatsoever.

Accordingly, if you or someone you know is ever arrested or charged with drugged driving, you have a constitutional right to challenge the evidence against you.  A good lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of your case and determine if the police officers acted appropriately, including whether a DRE’s testimony is reliable.  A good attorney may be able to have your case dismissed or thrown out of court completely.

New Jersey Drugged Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Will Fight for Your Rights

In order to win its case, the police and prosecutor must be able to prove that you took drugs or alcohol AND that the drugs or alcohol actually impaired your ability to drive when you were actually behind the wheel.  If you or someone you know is charged with DUI or DWI, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney right away.  A good lawyer can present the best defense in your case and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI lawyer about your situation, call us at 1-732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.