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Thoughts on Criminal Defense in North Carolina

What Happens After Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of A Drug DUI?


A couple of things can happen after someone is pulled over on suspicion of a drug DUI. There are people who are certified as Drug Recognition Experts who claim to have the ability to recognize certain features about a person’s appearance in order to determine whether or not they are under the influence of some sort of drug. So, if the regular street officer is not certified, he or she may call someone who is certified to come to the scene and see if they can develop probable cause as to whether or not the person has been using drugs. If that happens, then they are probably going to arrest the person and ask them to consent to a blood test. If a person consents to a blood test, then a nurse or other certified person will draw a sample of blood for the lab to analyze. This will allow law enforcement to determine whether or not the person has drugs in their system. However, there is nothing illegal about driving with drugs in your system; it’s only illegal to drive while under the influence of an impairing substance.

The heart of the issue is based on the fact that some people take medication, and even people who have smoked marijuana in the past have been under the influence of marijuana or used other drugs. So, initially they’ll determine whether or not there is probable cause for arrest. If there is an arrest, they’ll seek a blood test. If the person doesn’t consent to a blood test, they’ll seek a search warrant from the magistrate. If the magistrate issues a warrant, then they’ll take the blood sample by force, and it will be sent to the lab for analysis.

Depending on the results of the blood test, the defense may need to hire independent experts to analyze the report from the lab. If there is still a sample left, they will sometimes have it analyzed a second time in order to determine whether or not the person was actually impaired while driving.

What Are The Penalties Associated With Refusing A Blood Test In A Drug DUI Case?

If there is probable cause for arrest for an implied consent offense (also referred to as an impaired driving offense), then the officer can request that the person submit to a chemical test. If the officer has reason to believe that the driver is impaired by something other than alcohol, they will probably ask the person to submit to a blood test. Under these circumstances, refusal to submit to a blood test will result in a magistrate issuing an immediate revocation of the person’s license. In response, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles would revoke the person’s license for a year. The driver would have the same hearing rights to contest the revocation with the Department of Motor Vehicles, but it would be the same procedure as refusing a breath test.

Should Someone Ever Admit To Taking Any Kind Of Drug To An Officer?

I operate under the rule of thumb that a person should not talk to an officer without the advice of counsel. However, if you choose to talk to an officer, you should tell the truth. Volunteering information regarding past drug use is not going to make that much of a difference in a case. In fact, it can be detrimental in two ways. First, admitting to drug use may provide law enforcement with probable cause to take a blood sample. Secondly, if they get a blood sample, they are ultimately going to rely on the results from that test rather than your word. So, if they believe that what you say is inconsistent with what the blood test shows, it will hurt your case.

Even if you are honest and the blood test results are consistent with what you said, the question remains: were you impaired by the substance? The judge or jury is going to make that determination based on what the experts say about the concentration of drug in the blood. So, I don’t think that a person admitting to having used marijuana in the days or weeks before the incident is going to make a difference. A person telling an officer that he or she is on a prescription medication might not hurt, but it’s certainly not going to help if it’s a potentially impairing substance; having a prescription for an impairing substance is not a defense. Using an impairing substance as prescribed can still be a violation of the law if you drive. It’s not a violation to use a prescribed substance, but it is a violation to drive if you are impaired from that substance.

For more information on Drug DUI Cases In North Carolina, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (919) 967-0504 today.

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