Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs are two separate and distinct charges. The most common charge for impaired driving when drugs are related is vehicle code section 23152(e). This charge is specific to driving a motor vehicle under the influence of any drug. Unlike drunk driving the charges can be either alcohol or drug related. Drug cases are different in a lot of ways because it is based on more subjective signs of intoxication unlike an alcohol DUI where there is a BAC reading. In these cases, the prosecution will attempt to obtain what is known as a bio toxicology report to prove that your levels of impairment were higher than average at the time of driving.
How Important is Forensic Toxicology in a Drug DUI case?
Forensic Toxicology is the only thing that matters in a Drug DUI case in San Diego. You must discuss with your DUI lawyer the types of experts that are required for a DUI case. At the Monder Law Group we have the best experts in the country that have worked for the prosecution for over 40 years supervising the entire crime labs and now working for your defense. The rule of thumb in drug DUI cases is that you cannot make a decision about an individual’s impairment merely based on the chemical levels of a forensic bio-laboratory report. These reports do not take into consideration the tolerance levels of an individual or even the probability of uncertainty in the results. Having an experienced forensic toxicologist on your side will be able to increase your chances of winning your drug DUI case.
Every forensic toxicologist will have an opinion regarding the results of the chemical test. Obviously, in drug DUI cases the only test that is applicable is blood. The phlebotomist will extract your blood and send the sample to a lab to analyze the sample using gas chromatography. Any experienced DUI attorney understands the fundamentals behind the science of a chemical test but cannot testify for you. That is why it is important your DUI attorney has a forensic toxicologist on staff throughout the course of the case.
What Does the Bio-toxicology Report Mean?
Typically the numbers on a bio-toxicology report suggests that the amount of the controlled substance in your blood is weighed in nano-grams per milliliter. Any expert that understands the meaning of these numbers will tell you that the average number of impairment of any controlled substance is around 500 nano-grams per milliter or more in the blood. The prosecution will want you to believe that impairment occurs at a significantly lower number. This is all subjective and only an expert can make the final decision about impairment based on the totality of circumstances surrounding the DUI investigation.
Do Field Sobriety Test Mean Anything in a Drug DUI Case?
The field sobriety test will help experts and the arresting officer in forming a subjective opinion based on their personal observations and experience. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulates how these tests are conducted under Title 17. Every officer conducting DUI investigations are required to know the standards required in this manual. One key piece of information is that NHTSA’s manual on field sobriety tests only pertain to alcohol related DUI cases and not Drug DUI cases. This means that there is no real correlation between a field sobriety test and impairment for Drug DUI cases. The only real definitive examination that may have any merit in a Drug DUI case is an eye examination because it suggests a noticeable chemical use but does not indicate impairment on its own. An expert once said when comparing on a gram per gram basis that an 8 ounce cup of coffee is more dangerous in terms of driving than any use of cocaine or methamphetamine. The chemical reaction occurring internally in someone’s body while operating a motor vehicle is what matters more than any objective signs of chemical use. This is based on the fact that there are always other independent reasons why someone is showing noticeable signs of chemical use. Ultimately, if you have ever suffered from head trauma such as a concussion or any mental ailment then you would show similar signs as a person with a controlled substance in their system.
What About Tolerance Levels in Understanding Impairment?
Tolerance is one area that gets the prosecution nervous. Many times tolerance alone can leave a jury with reasonable doubt. The prosecution does not like uncertainty in their case because that leaves people questioning their case. The prosecution has to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest standard in our criminal justice system. If there is anything that can put holes in their case in chief then a jury will have to find you not guilty. Nobody can test for tolerance and there is no way for anyone to know your levels of tolerance unless someone is with you every single day of your life and can testify to that.
Many times experts will resort to using words like possibly impaired or high certainty of impairment because there is no way for them to be 100% certain of impairment because they do not know your tolerance levels. Each person is different in the amount of a controlled substance would cause impairment. Somebody who smokes marijuana every single day would have a different level of impairment than someone who occasionally smokes. This concept is very important to understand for the purposes of whether or not a jury could find you guilty of driving a motor vehicle while impaired.
How To Beat a Drug DUI Case in San Diego?
The best approach is getting your attorney to conduct his own forensic toxicology analysis from the blood vial that was extracted by the phlebotomist. Filing a blood split motion with the court to have the blood be re-tested by your own independent forensic toxicologist and not one that works for the prosecution. At Monder Law Group, we have our own forensic toxicologist on staff to conduct these re-tests.
Often times the prosecutor will look at the reports and offer you a wet reckless driving charge or dry reckless driving charge instead of a DUI. If you have your attorney continue to push trial on these issues, then your case can be dismissed at the trial stage. It important to have an attorney that is experienced in handling Drug DUI trials and is aggressive with the prosecution in order to earn a dismissal in your case.
Best Drug DUI Defense in San Diego
If you find yourself facing criminal charges for a Drug DUI in San Diego, you need to contact Monder Law Group, PC immediately. You only have 10 days from the date of arrest to prevent your license from being suspended. Also, it is important to start working on your defense right away because every day you wait is a day you lose to the prosecution who is building a case against you. You can contact the Monder Law Group, PC anytime at 619-405-0063 or visit www.monderlaw.com