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The Law Offices of Paul S. Geller, P.C

In a routine traffic stop that could lead to a DUI investigation, the first thing that officers do as a general protocol is factor the person’s driving pattern.  For example, if someone is driving erratically or commits some sort of a traffic violation, that in and of itself is not necessarily the only reason to show impairment, but that certainly gives rise to the contact from the officer. After the initial stop, there will be contact between the officer and the driver. The officer will then make several observations. Are there any statements by the person that would suggest that they were consuming marijuana and are under the influence? Of course, if there’s the odor of marijuana, that could suggest the person has been ingesting marijuana – but when?

If the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person’s in fact recently ingesting marijuana to the point that they could be impaired, then they’ll go through a series of field sobriety tests, just like they would with alcohol. The officer will use the same determinations to ascertain whether the person is driving while impaired. Once the arrest is made, a drug recognition expert (“DRE”) can come in and conduct a 12-step process to try to make a more skilled determination. Is the level of impairment at the level that should be prosecuted? Is it truly marijuana?  This information is very important for the prosecution and should be taken into consideration by prosecutors before they actually file the case.

Does Law Enforcement Request Standardized Field Sobriety Tests In A Marijuana DUI Case?

Law enforcement will do standardized field sobriety tests in the same way that they would in any driving under the influence case involving alcohol or otherwise. But, there are other types of tests. Some are standardized, some are not. Some may require further information to verify whether the person is under the influence. The interesting thing about field sobriety tests is that no one is required to participate in them. However, when a person gets their driver’s license, the implied consent law requires a person upon lawful arrest who is 21 or older, or if they’re underage, upon a lawful detention by a police officer, to provide a chemical test. A chemical test is a blood or breath test.

If it is a drug case, it could include urine. The law has changed quite a bit in that regard. But, performance of field sobriety tests are not required by law. Still, a police officer may react in a combative way or wonder why the person is being combative and simply make an arrest. When that happens, they often note in their reports that the individual is being uncooperative by not performing the tests. But again, nobody is required to perform them, and that “combative behavior” can be challenged or exploited as false once in court.

What Is A Drug Recognition Expert? What Is A DREs Role In My Marijuana DUI Case?

A drug recognition expert (DRE) undertakes a much more advanced training. Their training goes beyond the typical academy training that most officers obtain. A DRE undergoes specialized training and recognition. They will do additional field and classroom exercises. They will typically have many more hours of experience with subjects in jails and in the medical field during examinations. It’s a much more intense educational process. When it comes to their role in a DUI marijuana case, the DRE is usually called in after the arrest. Sometimes, there might be a person in the field who is supervising the newer patrol officers.  The process in which the DRE does a 12-step evaluation is more controlled and different than what happens in the field where a person is stopped.

In general, a traffic officer would make an arrest for DUI, bring the person into custody to the police department for lockup or a hospital, and the DRE will then take them through a 12-step process that is more controlled. The process would include other things that don’t just involve speaking with the arresting officer about their determination. The DRE does not rely on what the arresting officer said. They’re going back to square one. A good DRE won’t simply rely on the arresting officer’s information that he or she gathered. The DRE will start on their own path of going through the 12 steps to make a determination as to whether the person is truly under the influence.

The DRE’s process involves interviewing the arresting officer. There’s a preliminary examination of the subject. They will perform a physical examination of the subject’s eyes, run them through the field sobriety tests or divided tension tests, check their vital signs, check their physical eyes through a series of measurements in a dark room type of an examination, check their muscle tone, and check for injection sites if it happens to be a narcotic that’s heavier than marijuana. The DRE will look at the person’s statement, offer an opinion, and eventually have the subject take a blood test to determine the presence of narcotics. It’s a much more detailed process – it is as if the DRE is starting from square one utilizing the information that was gathered by the arresting officer in the field.

For more information on General Protocol In A Marijuana DUI Case, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 714-3112 today.

Paul S. Geller

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(626) 714-3112

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