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Difference Between Alcohol and Drug Related DUI Charges

Although both alcohol and drugs can lead to DUI charges, there are a number of differences in how impairment is proven. The following is information on how the process of these two cases differs and whether the legalization of marijuana has an impact on DUID charges. To learn more or begin discussing your case, call and schedule a consultation with a DC DUI drug lawyer today.

Similarities Between Drug and Alcohol Related DUI Charges in DC

The process for arrest and potential trial are similar in both instances. The differences, however, are in the tests that are conducted to determine whether or not there is a controlled substance in a person’s blood or urine.  There is also some difference in the testing that is done in the field which is called DRE testing in DUI drug cases, versus standardized field sobriety tests for alcohol.

As far as the way officers do investigations for drug use, there are some differences in the testing protocol when they are out in the field investigating. The officer needs to have a specialized DRE certification as opposed to just being certified to conduct standardized field sobriety test. They will also be doing a different search of the driver’s vehicle because they are looking for evidence of drug use as opposed to alcohol use. Since they are looking for slightly different things, they may search different places in the car but the basic process is the same.

Given The Trends Toward Legalizing Marijuana, Do You Foresee Any Changes in The Way Officers Look For Drug Use?

Just because marijuana is legal it does not mean that you can drive under its influence. A similar example of this is Ambien. Ambien is a prescription drug that is absolutely legal if you have a prescription, but you can’t drive under the influence of it. The charge is driving under the influence of drugs, not controlled substances or illegal drugs. It doesn’t really matter that marijuana has now been legalized up to a certain amount.

Difficulty of Proving Someone Is Under The Influence of Drugs

There are certain cues of the impairment, that are slightly different, that a trained officer is going to be looking for when looking for evidence of drug use. However, with regards to chemical testing vs. blood or urine testing it may be equally as difficult to prove impairment.

What Needs To Be Proven in a DUID Case

In drug DUI cases, the government has to prove that you are under the influence, meaning that that while you were driving you were essentially under the influence of some sort of drug. It doesn’t have to be an illegal drug, like marijuana that has now been legalized in the District of Columbia. They have to prove that you were under the influence and that your ability to drive was appreciably impaired. It’s a relatively low standard that the government has to meet.

When to Contact An Attorney

If a person is stopped by a police officer, they have every right to contact an attorney. They are not under arrest and the constitution allows for an attorney to be provided at a certain point. There is nothing prohibiting a person contacting an attorney at that initial contact point.  However, with that said, a person should obey a command from a police officer if they tell the person to get off their phone, even if they are contacting an attorney, they should obey that police officer.

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