Proving Impairment in Maryland Drug DUI Cases 

Information about involuntary intoxication is important in proving impairment in Maryland drug DUI cases. Involuntary intoxication as a defense is difficult to prove. It is unlikely that someone is not aware that they are under the influence of a substance. They might claim that someone put a drug in their drink and they did not know about it. That can be disproved through a blood test. If something shows up in a person’s system, it is not likely that they took the drug. However, there are few instances where that can be a defense. It is incredibly difficult to prove because the person still got into their car and drove it. If they had the wherewithal to get in the vehicle and put the keys in the ignition, it is difficult for the person to claim they did not know what they were doing. For more on the issue of involuntary intoxication and impairment, consult with a professional Maryland DUI drug attorney.

Ignorance of Drug Impairment

All prescription and over the counter drugs come with warnings. Almost every drug has a warning label on it. Even things that would not impede a person’s ability like vitamins have warnings. People need to be smart about reading what they put into their bodies. Proving impairment in a Maryland drug DUI case is difficult because drugs often come with warnings to not drive. Claiming that a person did not know that the drug would impair them in such a way is difficult to prove.

Testing for Presence of Drugs

An overwhelming majority of cases charged as a drug-related DUI involve the services of a drug recognition expert (DRE) who is an officer certified as an expert in recognizing drugs through a series of tests. This is a police officer, not a doctor. They are not trained by a doctor. They are taught by another officer and completed a standard protocol of classes and certifications to qualify as a DRE officer. They are useful in proving impairment in a drug DUI case in Maryland.

Driver’s Impairment as Result of Drug/Alcohol Interaction

A typical scenario where someone is arrested for driving impaired is when someone takes a prescription medication, goes out to dinner, and has a single drink. Unfortunately, these drugs have the ability to make a single drink feel like three or four, and that is an issue. The state’s argument is that prescription drugs have warnings on them and a person should heed those warnings. Alcohol and drugs are difficult to separate in terms of a solid defense.

The defense lawyer can make the argument that an individual had an adverse reaction to a prescription drug when it is just the drug itself and the interaction of the drug with the person’s body. The drug could have an adverse effect on the person or there was something going on in the body that disrupted the half-life of the drug that should have been out of their system after six or eight hours, but instead, is still there. Those are more complicated arguments, but they can be used to prove impairment in a Maryland drug DUI case.

Refusing Tests

Maryland explicitly states on the back of a person’s Maryland driver’s license that driving in the state implies consent to chemical testing for intoxication required by law. Maryland license suspensions can result from a person’s refusal to be tested. A person is forewarned that their license may be adversely affected.

The driver’s license is unpleasantly affected regardless of whether the person said yes or no when they test positive for drugs or alcohol. Maryland has the right to suspend the person’s license, put the person on an interlock program, or modify their license depending on their test results and whether the person refused to take the tests. A person has the right to refuse the field tests and can refuse to give breath or blood samples for testing. The only way around that is with a warrant and that is specific to blood tests.

Proving Driver is Impaired in Maryland

All cases in Maryland originate in the district courts. In Maryland’s district courts, the officer that made the initial traffic stop must be present. The officer who observed the person’s vehicle and the person must be in court to identify the person, their driving behavior, and lay the probable cause foundation. In most drug cases, the officer is not the DRE expert. They call a DRE officer to come and do the testing. There is a four-hour window within which they must do the testing.

Generally, the Maryland State Police are trained and certified as DRE officers. They assess the person through the specific tests. When a police officer is certified, they can conduct a detailed examination of a person to determine if they are under the influence of drugs when the drug evaluation indicates that. They can testify that, “Beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty, this person is under the influence of drugs.” For more on proving intoxication in a Maryland DUI drug case, contact a professional litigator.