DUI Drug Cases in Tampa, FL
In order to prove DUI the prosecutor for the State of Florida must show that the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and / or a chemical substance. When the alcohol is not present, drug DUI cases are particularly difficult for the prosecutor because any number of factors can explain the impairment other than drug use such as:
- Sickness or disease;
- Mental illness;
- Sleep deprivation, somnolence, drowsiness;
- Depression or anxiety;
- Other natural causes.
Compounded the problem for the prosecutor is the wide variety of drugs or controlled substances that could be involved in any particular case including street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana or prescription drugs such as prozac, soma, xanax, and valium.
Many prescription medications specifically contain a warning not to operate a motor vehicle while using the medication. Even over-the-counter medications or substances can cause impairment while driving, especially somnolence (or drowsiness).
Attorney for DUI Drug Crimes in Tampa, FL
If you have been arrested in Hillsborough County, Florida, for driving under the influence of drugs, prescription medication, or controlled substances then contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL. The five attorneys at Sammis Law Firm focus on these difficult cases.
The general information provided below is no substitute for speaking directly with an attorney about the facts and circumstances of your case so that you can find out what you may need to do today to protect yourself against this serious allegation.
Call 813-250-0500 today.
Unreliable Testing Procedures Used by Law Enforcement
In most cases, the arresting officer has not received any special training as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) discussed in greater detail below. Furthermore, any mention of drug use tends to have the effect of prejudicing the jury against the defendant because he is a “bad man” not because the evidence is particularly instructive on the issue of impairment at the time of driving.
The law enforcement officer may attempt to use the HGN (horizontal gaze nystagmus) or eye test to show impairment from drugs or a controlled substance. The DUI blood test or DUI urine test may also show the presence of drugs or controlled substances.
Finally, the officer’s observations or admissions from the driver may be admissible. It will be critical in these cases for your Tampa DUI Lawyer to take each piece of evidence against you and fight for its exclusion at trial.
Involuntary Intoxication Defense in a Drug DUI Case
A common issue in Drug DUI cases is that the legal use of medication may accidentally or unexpectedly affect the driver. The driver may have accidentally ingested more of the medication than intended or ingested a different medication than intended.
In those cases, where the drug use was truly “involuntary” Florida law has recognized the involuntary intoxication defense. See Carter v. State, 710 So.2d 110 (Florida 4th DCA 1998).
Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC)
Because of the increase in drug DUI cases throughout Florida, including Tampa and Hillsborough County, law enforcement agencies here have developed programs that provide more comprehensive testing procedures for drugs and controlled substances.
In the DEC program, certain law enforcement officers are trained as Drug Recognition Technicians (DRTs) (sometimes called “Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)”). These DRE officers are training in administering the Drug Influence Evaluation (DIE) exercises.
A law enforcement officer that is qualified to perform the roadside agility exercises (or standardized field sobriety testing) can receive extra training to become a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), including special certification and classroom instruction.
The goal of the DEC (Drug Evaluation and Classification) Program is to identify seven (7) general types of controlled substances or drugs including:
- Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine;
- Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants such as alcohol, xanax;
- Narcotic analgesics such as codeine or morphine;
- Inhalants such as glue, nitrous oxide, or solvents;
- Halucionogents such as LSD;
- Phencyclidine (PCP); and
- Cannabis or marijuana.
The Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) testing procedures involve twelve components:
- Interview of arresting officer;
- Blood-Alcohol Test;
- Introductory or Preliminary Testing;
- Eye testing or examination;
- Psychophysical tests for divided attention;
- Examination in a dark room;
- Muscle Tone Tests;
- Observations of injection sites;
- Admissions of the suspect or other clues; and
- Toxicological testing.
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