The Role Of Drug Recognition Experts In DUI Cases
A Drug Recognition Expert is a specially trained officer who is employed in DUI cases to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs. In most cases, officers only carry equipment that can determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol. There is no standardized test to determine if someone is under the influence of another drug that can be given to an individual roadside. In these cases, Drug Recognition Experts are called in to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
These tests include:
- Analysis and opinions of evaluator
- Blood test
- Breath alcohol test
- Check for injection sites
- Darkroom examinations (pupil dilation and pupil size under different lighting conditions)
- Divided attention tests (walk-and-turn, one-leg stand)
- Examination of muscle tone
- Eye examination (horizontal gaze nystagmus, vertical gaze nystagmus)
- Interview with arresting officer
- Preliminary investigation and first pulse
- Subject’s statements and other observations
- Vital signs and second pulse (blood pressure, temperature, pulse)
Officers receive training to administer these types of tests. The training is divided into two blocks. There is an initial 2-day, 16-hour “Pre-School” and a second 7-day, 56-hour “Drug Recognition Expert School”. So, you’re talking about a 9-day class to become a “Drug Recognition Expert.
In many cases, the notes taken by the officer are subjective. Officers are trained to look for signs of intoxication. But many of these tests can give false positives. Of course, that is not necessarily part of their training. They are trained to find those who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In many cases, the efforts of these officers can be contested during a DUI case. Maryland employs this method because it is recognized by the NHTSA. However, the reliability of these tests is often many degrees less than the amount of faith law enforcement puts in them.
Of all the tests that are widely available, blood and urine tests remain the most accurate. However, it can be difficult to determine whether or not someone is under the influence of drugs while they are driving. In many cases, the drugs may show up on tox screens for days, weeks, and even months after the driver has used the drugs.
The prosecution must establish that an individual was under the influence of drugs at the time of their driving. In many cases, Drug Recognition Experts provide testimony to the court concerning the intoxication of the witness. Juries tend to believe them. That’s why it’s vitally important to have a seasoned Maryland DUI defense attorney handle your case. We are aware of how these tests are implemented and the rate of error for drug tests. The burden of proof falls on the prosecutor to establish inebriation at the time of driving.
Talk to a Bel Air, MD DUI Defense Attorney Today
Schlaich & Thompson represent the interests of those who have been accused of DUI in Bel Air, Maryland. Call our Bel Air criminal defense lawyers today to set up an appointment and we can begin discussing your defense strategy immediately.