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What the police do is they start asking questions. They have been specifically trained especially the CHP, not as much the LAPD but they’ve been specifically trained to try and identify people who are using drugs and driving or using alcohol and driving. The first line of attack for them is they are going to start asking questions, like for example, have you had any drugs tonight, sir? Ou look like you are under the influence of something. Have you had any alcohol? Where have you been? Then, they are going to start asking questions to identify whether your mind is right and they’ll ask you where you are headed? Do you know where you are right now? Once they get an idea that you might be under the influence of a drug or any substance that can affect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, they are going to then ask you to step out of your car, they are going to watch how you get out of the car and they are going to start with their field sobriety tests.
Hence it’s a drug case and they suspect that you are not able to safely operate a motor vehicle then they are going to get a drug recognition expert out there to start asking you questions and conducting tests and ultimately in the end they are going to be judging everything that you do, watching you, taking notes and then they are going to get either a blood or some sort of urine test so they can quantify what you might be under the influence of and confirm their suspicions.
They are going to test as soon as they can. First, they’ll ask a bunch of questions about it and then they like to do a blood test a lot of times and they will tell the people who do a blood test to scan for as many possible substances as they can. They also have drug recognition experts who are specially trained to be able to test somebody for the presence of drugs. One big problem that I see though and a lot of times, for example, with marijuana, as a drug-related to DUI that can stay in your system for quite some time. So, you could have smoked marijuana a few days earlier or even a week earlier and they may test for THC and they may find that all of a sudden they are claiming that you are a marijuana DUI but in reality, you didn’t even smoke marijuana that day. So there they are getting better and better with the marijuana tests trying to gauge, especially now since marijuana has been legalized in California now, they really are trying to zero down so they can see how potent the marijuana is in your system in order to really be able to make the argument that you are a marijuana DUI.
As far as other drugs go, they will have you take a urine test as well. That’s another way they can detect whether you have alcohol in your system or drugs in your system. They are not going to just combine it with the test results, they are also going to use their own observation of how you are walking, talking, driving and how you perform on the tests.
Yes. The drug recognition experts definitely have specialized training to be able to identify whether somebody is under the influence of a drug or some other substance. They have training through the academy, the police academy, depending on whether they are LAPD or CHP and one problem that they have a lot of times is they’ll stop somebody at the scene of a traffic pullover and they don’t have the drug recognition experts handy and that creates some sort of a problem because I am seeing now regular police officers trying to figure out whether somebody is under the influence of a drug-related DUI and if they are using the alcohol test to do that, that’s going to make them ripe for attack. Should a case go to trial, they are going to get ripped up trying to use an alcohol test to determine if somebody has got drugs in their system. So really what they are going to want to do is call a drug recognition expert out to the scene or they will have to go to the station and find somebody who has been specially trained to be a drug recognition expert.
What I do obviously is if I take a case to trial and there is an issue as to whether my client could safely operate a motor vehicle related to drug use, I’m going to grill that drug recognition expert over. I’m going to ask some questions, I’m going to test how much training they have. If they have just a couple of hours of training in the academy, that’s not very impressive. So they are going to be right to be attacked and be embarrassed in front of a judge or potential jury. It will kind of depend on the circumstances surrounding your case, how effective a drug recognition expert can be for a DUI matter in Los Angeles.
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