When most people hear about a traffic stop and/or arrest for driving under the influence they assume it refers to a law enforcement officer’s suspicion that a motorist is driving under the influence of alcohol. More and more frequently, however, it actually refers to a police officer’s suspicion that the driver is under the influence of a controlled substance, such as marijuana. Even in states where marijuana is now legal, in one form or another, it remains illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. Most law enforcement agencies have officers who are certified “Drug Recognition Experts (DREs),” meaning they can allegedly recognize the signs that indicate a driver is driving under the influence of drugs. All too often though, these DREs are really just arresting motorists based on guesswork or “hunches.”
Driving under the Influence of Drugs – Nebraska Law
Although over half of the states in the United States have now legalized marijuana to some extent, the State of Nebraska is not among them. Moreover, the law in Nebraska clearly makes it illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6, 196 governs driving under the influence, stating as follows:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of alcoholic liquor or of any drug;
(b) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of his or her blood; or
(c) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of his or her breath.
How to Law Enforcement Officers Determine a Driver Is under the Influence of Drugs?
Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is clearly illegal; however, figuring out if a motorist is guilty of DUID remains both difficult and controversial. Unlike testing for the presence of alcohol, which can be accomplished using a portable breath test, testing for the presence of drugs cannot be done without a urine or blood test – tests that cannot be administered on the side of the roadway during a traffic stop. Consequently, the determination that a driver is DUID is left entirely up to the “expertise” of the arresting officer. The problem is that law enforcement officers frequently base an arrest for DUID on nothing more than a hunch that the driver is under the influence of drugs. Even officers who are certified DREs often get it wrong. Take, for example, the arrest in Georgia of 23 year old Katelyn Ebner while on her way home from work one night. The arresting officer, a certified DRE, conducts a lengthy investigation before declaring that she was “showing indicators” of being under the influence of marijuana. Both a blood and urine test would eventually prove that Ebner was not under the influence of any drugs, but only after she spent the night in jail, lost her license to serve alcohol, and spent a small fortune to clear her name. Ebner’s case is not unusual.
What makes Ebner’s arrest newsworthy is the fact that her experience if far from an isolated incident. On the contrary, sober drivers all across the country are being pulled over and arrested for DUID. They may ultimately be vindicated; however, the decision to make the arrest in the first place is typically based on nothing more than a law enforcement officer’s “investigation,” and that investigation is frequently faulty. A certified DRE is supposed to conduct a 12 step investigation that is supposed to help identify a driver who is under the influence of a controlled substance. Many officers, including the officer in Ebner’s case, do not use all 12 steps and/or do not interpret the results of the steps correctly. Most troubling of all is the fact that the portable breath tests used in a driving under the influence of alcohol investigation cannot help in a DUID investigation because they don’t detect controlled substances. For a suspect, this often means they must wait until the results of a blood draw come back – hours or days after an arrest – to prove their innocence.
Contact Nebraska Driving under the Influence of Drugs Attorneys
If you were recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Nebraska, contact a Nebraska DUID lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer.