In many cases, a DUI arrest arises from an individual who has had too much too drink and attempted to drive. To be sure, some people may find themselves in this situation if they simply had one too many beers after work and hopped in the car to go home.
In other cases, however, those arrested for DUI may not have consumed alcohol, but their driving abilities may still be impaired as a result of taking drugs, which could even include prescription medications. Here, the driver may still be charged with DUI if it can be shown that his or her faculties were impaired enough that driving was dangerous.
The vast majority of DUI cases involve alcohol, but alcohol is not the only substance that causes impairment, and the law clearly reflects that reality. In fact, if drivers have even a trace amount of a Schedule I drug in their urine, intoxication is presumed.
As for other substances, including marijuana and methamphetamines, the prosecutor must use circumstantial evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the driver was “under the influence of an impairing substance.” In these situations, the state generally relies on three field tests. They are:
- Walk and Turn (walking a straight line),
- One Leg Stand, and
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.
All these tests are flawed in their own way, especially when they are conducted at the scene to determine probable cause for arrest.
The drivers are asked to perform these tests at night, on an uneven surface, during a period of extreme stress, and with flashing lights from the squad car in their faces. These adverse conditions nearly always affect the balancing tests. Specifically, the darkness and flashing lights make it difficult for officers to look for clues in the HGN test.
Marijuana is an even more difficult case. According to a recent study, drivers under the influence of cannabis are actually safer than ones who are under the influence of alcohol. Researchers hypothesized that marijuana is absorbed in a way that is much different from alcohol, and that distinction accounted for the difference.
Reach Out to Assertive Defense Attorneys
An aggressive defense is critical in a DUI case that involves circumstantial evidence. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorneys in Greenville, contact the Bateman Law Firm.