With the country’s crack down on drugs, it is no surprise that the law enforcement agencies have a person on staff known as the drug recognition expert. This position is for an officer who can recognize whether someone is under the influence of an ability-altering substance, what it potentially could be, and whether such drug has rendered the suspect unable to drive. This is primarily a visual evaluation, and as a result there can be potential discrepancies.
This officer is usually called onto the scene after a regular officer stops someone for suspected drunk driving. After the initial field sobriety tests, if the officer provides a breathalyzer that the person passes, they may be inclined to request a drug recognition expert to come and determine whether the person in question is under the influence of another substance.
This expert initiates a five part test, including coordination, eye, vital signs, muscle tone, and visual inspection. Each test is supposed to evaluate different parts of the body that have different symptoms associated with a particular drug. The expert should be very familiar with the 7 following drug classes:
- CNS depressants
- CNS stimulants
- Narcotic Analgesics
Each class has a certain set of symptoms that are supposed to be identifiable for the drug recognition expert, helping to determine whether the person is impaired from drug use.
There has been significant controversy over this expert however, focusing on whether this is a reliable set of tests. This leads way to potential defenses if you have been charged with driving under the influence. An experienced defense attorney will know he or she can challenge the accuracy of the evaluation and tests as well as the expert’s qualifications. In experiments conducted on the drug recognition expert’s capabilities, only 44% of cases were found to have consistent recognition by the expert with the toxicology report. There may also be other reasons for your reaction to mimic the responses consistent with drug related symptoms.
Driving under the influence in New Jersey comes with a potential 30-day jail sentence, fines ranging between $300 and thousands of dollars. A license suspension may also be a penalty depending on the circumstances of your case.
To wrap up this discussion, there is a pending Supreme Court case right now that could decide whether taking a urine sample requires a warrant; without testing urine the police will be unable to reinforce the officer’s subjective observation with scientific evidence. If you’re interested in learning more, the specific case is State v. Verpent, and the hearing is set for early next month on September 9th. Stay tuned to my blog: when the decision is finally made sometime in the upcoming months, I will write more on this particular subject.
If you are facing a driving under the influence charge, it is very important to seek help from an experienced attorney. If a drug recognition expert was used to determine your inability to drive, you should obtain legal assistance immediately. A driving under the influence conviction can become a serious burden, especially if you lose your license. The Law Office of Leon Matchin has the experience to help you deal with your charge. With years of experience focusing primarily on defense law, I have the knowledge and proven track record you need to help you through your driving under the influence charge. Do not wait, these cases tend to have a short turn around; call today at (732) 662-7658 for a free consultation.