Proving Impairment in Baltimore DUI Drug Cases

The majority of the time, drugs can only be tested by a blood draw. As with the breath test for alcohol, you do not have to submit to a blood draw. However, there are other ways that law enforcement can try to prove intoxication with a drug recognition expert (DRE) — an officer who’s taken extensive training and would be looking at certain signs from an evaluation and observation of you that could suggest by a combination of results that you were under the influence of a drug.

A Baltimore DUI drug attorney must walk through the examination of a drug recognition expert very carefully. He or she will examine the coursework that the DRE had to go through to be declared an expert; what protocols are used? Are they reliable? Can they really identify a medication or a drug in someone’s system? Much of the time, these officers only have a basic understanding of their coursework literature. Many have no medical background and use unreliable medical terminology in their testimony. There was a case in Carroll County where a judge threw a case out for that reason, and these cases have become more prominent throughout the country.

Methods for Testing the Presence of Drugs in Baltimore

It is unlikely that an officer will try to get a urinalysis from you. More often, they will try to get a blood sample, and then that combined with the officer’s testimony would be submitted as evidence of some form of drug impairment. This is different than a drug recognition expert officer coming in and claiming that you are under the influence of drugs, which is really a medical diagnosis. This is not for an officer who has no medical training or background to say. If that is the only evidence against you in a courtroom, it can be unreliable.

Dealing with drug recognition experts is one of the factors that makes it important to contact an experienced Baltimore DUI drug attorney who has a background in defending people who have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs as opposed to alcohol. This is because the defense will involve scrutinizing that DRE. An experienced Baltimore DUI drug attorney will ask questions like: When did the DRE take his or her course? When was the last time he or she went to the protocols? Has it been 10, 15 or more years since the last training? Does he or she have any medical background? If any of the answers cast doubt on the drug recognition expert’s credibility, these are the questions you want to be able to ask in court. You want a drug DUI attorney who has experience in the Baltimore court system and understands the difference between a DUI drug case versus a DUI alcohol case, especially if you do have the drug recognition expert testifying.

Legal Defenses Against Impairment in Baltimore DUID Cases

When the diagnosis is based on an examination of observation only, the results simply cannot be reliable. Discerning impairment from non-impairment based on observations alone is incredibly challenging, especially if, for instance, it’s late at night and you’ve been working all day. Your eyes might be somewhat bloodshot, your hands might be sweaty and you might be showing other signs of exhaustion that might look similar to those of impairment.

As a result, the questions becomes: How can you truly trust exactly what is being observed by someone who is essentially a layperson? The bottom line is that these “experts” are law enforcement officers—not doctors—and their testimonies shouldn’t be treated as medical diagnoses. Although this type of testimony occurs regularly in the court system, its legal standing is questionable. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration did not have this in mind when they developed the curriculum for DREs. The passing score is 80% which means that someone who barely passes the test at 80% could now be assessing you for something that could put you in jail for a year and that is not the person you want as your gatekeeper.

Handling Drug Recognition Experts

A Baltimore drug recognition expert is an officer who has been trained to recognize the signs of intoxication by looking for certain specific evidence. What these officers do is administer tests on someone who is suspected of being impaired which can later be used in their testimony to prosecute a case.

These experts are simply looking for what they believe would be evidence of intoxication according to the protocols that they’ve been taught through these courses. Observations that they might make include your appearance, skin color, skin texture, body temperature. Your cognitive and physical conditions combined with the reliability of these protocols will form a DRE’s conclusion and be part of their testimony.

However, even though a DRE is trained, it is possible to challenge the admissibility of the testimony because these officers often have no medical experience. A drug recognition expert on the stand in front of a judge or jury will argue that you were impaired based on the 12-step drug recognition test. As they go through their testimony, your Baltimore DUI drug attorney might question whether everything is applicable and what qualifies them to come to medical conclusions. If it is reasonable, is it still enough to prove that you were under the influence of drugs, or does it merely suggest the possibility that you might have been?