Driving under the influence is illegal when a driver is impaired by a drug (drug DUI). There is a clear-cut limit for driving under the influence of alcohol, which is .08%. This means that if a person has a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, they are per se driving under the influence. Unlike alcohol DUIs, there is no clear-cut limit for driving under the influence of drugs. For this reason, drugged driving is much more complicated to define, and the focus of drugged driving is on the driver’s level of impairment.
DRE Process For a Drug DUI
In Connecticut, there is a systematic, though subjective method that law enforcement can use to assess a driver’s level of impairment. This is called a DRE process and it is similar to the field sobriety tests. However, it also includes an examination of the person’s pulse, pupils, muscle tone, and more. Connecticut allows for law enforcement to receive specialized training in drug detection where they evaluate the suspect since a normal breathalyzer test will not clearly show the person’s level of intoxication of drugs.
The DRE evaluation will include a blood pressure check, pulse rate check, checking body temperature, muscle tone, and pupil size. The handling of stopping and searching a vehicle is also changing in Connecticut. An internal bulletin to law enforcement by the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training stated that officers could not use the odor of marijuana as probable cause to make a stop and search of a vehicle.
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Though there is no nationally developed systematic procedure for assessing whether a person is under the influence of drugs, Connecticut law has developed a systematic procedure. Under this DRE drug evaluation process, the officer will follow a 12-step process. First, they must administer the breath test, then interview the arresting officer, then conduct a preliminary examination and pulse check, next there must be an eye examination, a divided attention psychophysical test, then check vital signs and a second pulse check, examine the pupils, examine the muscle tone, check for injection marks and take a third pulse check, get a statement from the suspect, make a determination of impairment, then request a toxicological examination such as blood, fluid, or urine.
If arrested for a drug DUI, a person will face the possibility of jail, community service, steep fines (generally $500 to $1,000), license suspension, using an ignition interlock device, and consequences with the DMV as well. Additionally, a drug DUI can result from not only elicit substances like methamphetamines or cocaine, but also prescription drugs as well. The number of officers in Connecticut who are trained drug recognition experts is only going to increase, and Hartford residents and travelers must be aware of the reality of getting caught driving while under the influence of any substance.
If you face a DUI charge in Hartford, call Lady DUI to speak with an attorney.