Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, has enacted some form of DUI law making it illegal to drive a vehicle under the influence of drugs. The statutes themselves vary significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but generally DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) statutes make it illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug, whether it is narcotic, illegal, or over the counter. Thus, whether you are under the influence of crack, prescription Xanax, or Nyquil, the penalties are the same.
Just as states have per se DUI laws, some states now are also enacting per se DUI drug laws, making it illegal to drive with any amount of drugs present in your system. Most statutes exempt prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications from per se prosecution, as these medications were legally obtained. Such medications may still impair your ability to drive, however, and arrest and prosecution is still possible for driving under the influence of them.
Prosecution of DUID’s in general are more difficult than DUI’s are, as breath tests cannot detect drug levels and even blood tests cannot always determine what particular drug may be in your system. Additionally, because most police officers are not adequately trained in drug detection, your entire DUID case may rest on an unqualified officer’s opinion of your supposed drug impairment. Some states statutes have harsher sentences for DUID cases. If you have been arrested for DUID, contact an experienced attorney in your state for more information.
The movement towards Drug Recognition Experts: Most DUI officers will tell you that as the years have gone by, the percentage of people impaired by drugs has risen significantly. This may be because of America’s love affair with prescription medication, or it may be because drugs such as meth are cheap and easy to obtain, and often used, at least initially, to gain an edge in our ultra-competitive world.
Because many police departments have lacked the tools to effectively detect and process drug impaired drivers, many police departments are not making an effort to get more officers certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). When a person is pulled over and suspected of drug impairment, a DRE officer, if available, will be called in to do a battery of drug recognition tests.
It has been predicted that within the next decade, the number of drug related DUI arrests will equal or exceed the number of alcohol related DWI arrests.
If you are accused of drug related DUI, or DUI with a combination of alcohol and drugs, select the state of your arrest above or on the homepage and contact a qualified local DUI lawyer to review your exposure and options.