California police step up efforts to detect DUI for drugs

On behalf of The Law Offices of Michael L. Davidson posted in Field Sobriety Tests on Friday, October 4, 2013.

As it currently stands, California law doesn’t distinguish between charges for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs. As the calendar flips to 2014, however, the law will recognize the difference. According to a report from NBC Bay Area, this change is primarily for gathering better information about DUI charges statewide.

Even though the law is changing slightly next year, law enforcement’s attitude toward DUI charges is not. In fact, there is an effort to train more cops how to detect certain kinds of drugs among DUI suspects through specialized field sobriety tests. Despite these efforts, though, it is still difficult to provide unshakable evidence that someone was under the influence of illegal drugs while behind the wheel of his or her vehicle.

News reports indicate that prosecutors are often hesitant to pursue drug DUI cases. The reason is that evidence gathering is difficult. Unlike alcohol-related impairment, there is no breath test for drug use. Furthermore, there is no clearly defined legal limit for drugs, which introduces ambiguity into the law.

Even though California police are taking steps to implement new field testing for drugs, the reality is that these tests are subjective. Officers can receive training, but they are still making the judgment call about whether or not someone consumed drugs before driving.

Understanding that there may be increased efforts to make drug DUI arrests, individuals who are charged could benefit from understanding their rights. Since this area of law is complex and charges can be difficult to prove, a thorough review of evidence and arrest records could help an individual resolve charges.

Source:¬†NBC Bay Area, “Drugged Driving Tough to Detect, Convict,”¬†Stephen Stock, Julie Putnam and Felipe Escamilla, Oct. 2, 2013

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The Law Offices of Michael L. Davidson
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