In Connecticut, it is illegal to drive while impaired by any type of drug, which even includes prescription drugs. There is a clear limit to a person’s blood alcohol content for alcohol, which is .08%. This means that a person who has a BAC of .08% or higher is per se under the influence. This is not the case for driving under the influence of drugs, and for that reason, drugged driving is much more complicated to define. The main focus on drugged driving is on the driver’s level of impairment.
The state of Connecticut has created a method for law enforcement to assess a driver’s level of impairment when that person is suspected by law enforcement of being under the influence of drugs. This process is called DRE and it is somewhat comparative to the standard field sobriety tests. However, it also includes an examination of the driver’s pulse, pupils, muscle tone, and other things that are affected by the influence of drugs. Connecticut allows for law enforcement to receive specialized training in the area of drug detection, which allows certain DRE officers to evaluate the suspect to determine their level of intoxication, instead of relying on a breathalyzer, which does not clearly show a person’s intoxication by drugs.
A typical DRE evaluation by one of these officers will include checking the body functions of the suspect, including blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature, muscle tone, and pupil size. These officers conduct a 12-step process to determine someone’s level of impairment.
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First, they will conduct a breath test, interview the suspect, conduct a preliminary examination, then conduct the first pulse check. Next, the police officer will conduct an eye examination. The officer will then instruct the suspect to complete a divided attention psychophysical test, check their vital signs and a second pulse check, then examine their pupils. The officer will then examine the muscle tone, check for injection marks, do a third pulse check and get the suspect’s statement. Lastly, the officer will request a toxicological examination through blood, fluid, or urine.
Drug DUI Consequences
Once a person is arrested for a drug DUI, they will face the possibility of jail, community service, fines anywhere between $500 and $1,000, license suspension, ignition interlock device, and possibly other consequences with the DMV. The court can also impose requirements such as substance abuse and treatment, counseling, probation, and participation in victim impact panels. One misconception is that driving under the influence of illegal drugs is the only way to get arrested for drugged driving, which is untrue. Even driving under the influence of prescription drugs that impair a person can result in a drugged driving arrest.
As drug laws change and as standardized testing for drug impairment becomes more developed, the number of DRE trained officers in Connecticut will likely only increase, and the methods used will likely become even more refined. Waterbury residents and travelers must be aware of the reality of driving while under the influence of any substance and should be aware of this developing method of evaluating a person for drug impairment. If you have been charged with a DUI in Waterbury, it could have serious consequences on your life. Call Lady DUI to speak with a DUI attorney today.