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Drugged Driving Charges Are Hard to Prove

Suspected drunk driving is not the only thing that can bring about DWI or DUI charges in Maryland. Individuals who are allegedly under the influence of drugs can also be charged with the same crime. And the same harsh penalties apply.

Drugged driving charges are difficult for police officers to prove. There are many factors that must be considered to determine whether not a person has taken a drug, and whether or not that drug has impaired his or her driving abilities. Judges and juries often find that they cannot convict a person of drugged driving without a reasonable doubt.

Unlike drunk driving, there is no standard that defines whether a person is driving over or under the legal limit. When it comes to alcohol consumption, a person with a blood alcohol content of more than .08 percent is considered to be legally impaired. While the officers need probable cause to pull that driver over, the BAC is really the determining factor in whether or not a person was under the influence of alcohol.

Drugs, including prescription drugs, do not have any such standard. There is very little research about the impact of various illegal and prescription substances on the average driver.

On the other hand, police officers do have some tools at their disposal to attempt to prove that a person was under the influence of drugs while driving. First, they can administer field sobriety tests. They can also record traffic stops with dashboard cameras.

Perhaps the most important tool for police departments in Maryland is a Drug Recognition Expert. DRE police officers have training in identifying drug impairment, and their word often carries weight with judges and juries.

Anyone accused of driving while under the influence of any drug, including legal prescription medications, should speak with an experienced defense attorney. There are many ways to defend against drugged driving charges, and it is important to present a strong argument.

Source: USA Today, "DUIs involving prescription drugs difficult to prove," Kaustuv Basu, 18 Oct 2010

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