Defended a client today who was found not guilty of a drug related DUI charge. DUI offenses are punishable under the same statute as the alcohol based violation. The main difference is there is no graduated penalty scale. This means that if a defendant is convicted of a DUI based on narcotic intoxication, he will be sentenced to a mandatory 7 month to a year loss of license.
However, it is tougher for the State to prove that a defendant was under the influence of a narcotic. In many cases, doing so will require a drug recognition expert.
Frequently, the police mistake this type of intoxication for alcohol induced. When the defendant blows into the Alcotest, it registers 0.00. Sometimes the police will request that the defendant provide urine, blood, or hair. Refusing is not a separate offense as it would be if the defendant failed to provide samples of his breath.
In this particular case, my client was arrested following a traffic stop. He was taken back to the station and blew into the Alcotest and it registered 0.00. The officer then claimed that he asked my client for a urine sample and my client refused to give one. Regardless, I introduced a drug test my client independently submitted to a few days after the arrest and it was clean across the board.
The State argued that the field sobriety tests were sufficient to prove that he was under the influence. But it was proven that the results of the tests were generally unremarkable and none of the officers involved were drug recognition experts, which significantly limited the officer’s ability to offer testimony to the signs of drug induced intoxication.