Police Will Ask Specific Questions
What the police do is they start asking questions. They have been trained, especially the CHP, not as much as the LAPD. Still, they've been specifically trained to try and identify people who are using drugs and driving or using alcohol and driving.
The crime of driving under the influence of drugs is covered under California Vehicle Code 23152f. The first line of attack for them is they will start asking questions, like, for example, have you had any drugs tonight, sir? Or, you look like you are under the influence of something. Have you had any alcohol? Where have you been?
Then, they will 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 ask you then 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 cannot operate a motor vehicle safely; they will get a drug recognition expert out there to start asking you questions.
They will start conducting tests, and ultimately, in the end, they are going to be judging everything that you do, watching you, and taking notes. Then they will get either blood or some urine test to quantify what you might be under the influence of and confirm their suspicions.
How And When Police Test For The Presence Of Drugs in DUI Arrest
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 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, 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. Still, 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 are trying to zero down so they can see how potent the marijuana is in your system to 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. That's another way to detect whether you have alcohol or drugs in your system. They are not going to combine it with the test results; they will also use their observation of how you are walking, talking, driving, and performing on the tests.
Do Drug Recognition Experts Have Specific Training?
Yes. The drug recognition experts have specialized training to identify whether somebody is under the influence of a drug or some other substance.
They have trained through the academy, the police academy, depending on whether they are LAPD or CHP, and one problem they have a lot of times is they'll stop somebody at the scene of a traffic pullover. They don't have the drug recognition experts handy.
This creates some problems because I now see regular police officers trying to figure out whether somebody is under the influence of a drug-related DUI. If they are using the alcohol test to do that, they will be ripe for attack.
Should a case go to trial, they will get ripped up trying to use an alcohol test to determine if somebody has got drugs in their system. So really, they will want to call a drug recognition expert out to the scene or have to go to the station and find somebody specially trained to be a drug recognition expert.
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 will be suitable to be attacked and be embarrassed in front of a judge or potential jury. It will depend on your case's circumstances and how effective a drug recognition expert can be for a DUI matter in Los Angeles.