Although there is a lot of information out there about DUIs, not all of it is well-known. Since knowledge can mean the difference between avoiding a DUI and being convicted, it's important to learn as much about these laws as possible. Here are two things you may not know about drug DUIs that may help you if you get into trouble.
Currently, There Are No Reliable Roadside Drug Tests
Unlike breathalyzers that can determine blood alcohol level fairly accurately, there currently aren't any reliable roadside tests that tell law enforcement officers how much of a drug is in your system; at least none that are admissible in court. More often than not, police will arrest you based on circumstantial evidence that appears to indicate you are intoxicated. For instance, if the police smell marijuana and you have red eyes, he or she may arrest you under the suspicion you're high on cannabis. The only way the officer will know for sure, however, is to take you to a medical facility and get a blood or urine sample for testing.
This is good to know because sometimes you can refuse to submit to drug testing. For instance, the Supreme Court ruled that police must secure a warrant to take blood samples from people arrested for DUIs and that people can refuse to have their blood drawn without being subjected to criminal charges, though you may still be hit with administrative penalties.
Established Levels of Intoxication for Drug DUI Are Rare
Every state has established a BAC level (typically .08) where you will automatically be arrested for DUI if you exceed it, regardless of whether you were impaired or not. However, very few states have the equivalent for drugs. Currently, Colorado and Washington are the only states that have (or are considering) those laws for marijuana. If you test positive for marijuana and have 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in your system, you will automatically receive a DUI the same as if you were caught driving with a BAC level of .08 or over.
This means the prosecution has to prove you were too high on drugs to drive safely using circumstantial evidence, which can make it easier to defend against the charges. Since drugs affect different people in different ways, you may be able to successfully argue your erratic driving was caused by other things rather than intoxication.
For more information about these issues or help defending against a DUI charge, contact a criminal defense attorney such as Thomas & Associates, PC.