Most people know that they can go to jail for a DUI if a blood chemical test shows that they were driving with illegal narcotics in their blood. Fewer are aware that prescription drugs that impair perception, coordination and otherwise impact driving ability can also be the basis for a Oklahoma DUI arrest. You may be subject to a DUI prosecution for driving while you are impaired by drugs or alcohol. DUI drugs cases are very different than cases involving intoxication from alcohol. Certain Oklahoma DUI defenses may be available to you.
There is a legal threshold of .08 percent BAC, at which drivers are considered impaired for alcohol. Being below this level is among other Oklahoma DUI defenses. There is no such minimum threshold in a DUI drugs case. Essentially, this amounts to a “zero tolerance policy”. You will be subject to a DUI charge if any amount of an impairing drug is present in your blood.
Imagine grandma goes to the doctor to pick up pain medication for her arthritis. Then takes a pill to “take the edge off the pain” before driving home. She may be stopped and arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Even though she had a lawful prescription, this provides no defense to the DUI charge. Further, the fact that she did not know it was illegal to drive when taking a impairing prescription drug does not matter. Ignorance of the law is not a defense.
Oklahoma DUI Drug Arrests on The Rise:
The prevalence of DUI cases involving drugs as the substance that causes impairment is on the rise. Law enforcement has found that drugs are in as many as 25 percent of blood tests in DUI cases in Texas and 35 percent in New York City. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 10.5 million drivers per year admit to driving while under the influence of some form of drug. Law enforcement takes DUI drug cases very seriously because of the risk of traffic accidents caused by drug impaired drivers. The NHTSA reports that a third of all people killed in fatal car accidents tested positive for some form of drug.
Examples of Oklahoma DUI Defenses:
DUI cases involving drugs have effective Oklahoma DUI defenses available. This includes challenging the basis for the stop; observations of the police officer; training of the officer in recognizing drug impaired drivers; and challenging the blood test.
- Legal Basis for the Stop: The officer may not pull you over without sufficient evidence of a criminal act. If the officer does not have sufficient grounds for the stop all evidence collected may be subject to exclusion.
- Officer Observations: The officer will typically indicate that you displayed obvious signs of impairment. These include bloodshot eyes and lack of coordination and/or that you failed field sobriety tests. This evidence often can be effectively challenged by careful review of the officer’s police report and rigorous cross-examination.
- Lack of Training: The physical manifestations of drug impairment differ substantially from alcohol impairment. While many areas use specially trained police officers called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), many officers lack this specialized form of training. This lack of training can show that the officer was not able to accurately recognize drug impairment.
- Challenging Chemical Tests: Because breath tests will not reveal illegal or prescription drugs, you will take a blood or urine test if the officer has probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of drugs. These tests will often follow a breath test that yielded a 0.0 BAC result. The officer must have probable cause for arrest to have you submit to a chemical test. So the test may be subject to exclusion if the officer did not have sufficient evidence of impairment. Further, the testing may occur in a way that compromises its reliability or accuracy because of collection procedures. handling and transportation. The sample may incur exposure to extreme heat or contamination of the sample may occur. Most importantly, most drugs linger in the body for days, weeks and even months. So the blood test may only reveal that you have taken drugs at some point; not that you were driving under impairment.
Our Tulsa Oklahoma DUI drugged driving attorneys aggressively defend our clients against the lasting impact of a DUI conviction involving drugs. If you’ve been charged with either a DUI drugs or a DUI alcohol we can help you.
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