The federal government is urging states to crack down on motorists who
are driving under the influence of drugs. The National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration has announced the launch of $7 million in advertising
and is urging states to adopt mandatory testing policies.
Our Reno DUI Defense Attorneys understand the complexities of representing
someone facing allegations of driving under the influence of drugs in Nevada.
Drivers who refuse a breath test will typically face an automatic suspension
of their driver’s license for a period of one year on a first offense.
However, your license will be suspended anyway if you are convicted of
drunk driving. By refusing the breathalyzer, you will be denying the state
a key piece of evidence used to convict you. And there are many additional
penalties associated with a DUI conviction, including fines and court
costs, possible jail time, alcohol treatment and probation.
Nor are suspects required to submit to a blood or urine test to test for
the presence of drugs. Exceptions are if a serious or fatal accident has
occurred or if the defendant has been convicted of DUI within the past
7 years. In such cases, an officer may direct that a test be conducted
using reasonable force, if necessary.
In the absence of a blood or urine test, it can be extremely difficult
to convict someone of DUI drugs. That is part of the reason why the federal
government is encouraging states to pass laws that would permit on-call
judges to issue immediate warrants for forced testing.
“The ‘No Refusal’ strategy helps support prosecutions
and improves deterrence, which means fewer drunk drivers on the road,”
NHSTA Administrator David Strickland said. “I want to remind everyone
this holiday season: if you’re over the limit, you’re under
arrest. So please, for safety’s sake, find a designated driver or
take a taxi if you are under the influence.”
However, even the federal government admits that testing positive for drugs
does not mean a driver was under the influence at time of arrest. Marijuana,
for instance, can remain in a person’s system for a month after
consumption. This issue is becoming increasingly problematic when a driver
has a medical marijuana card. Even when legally allowed to consume medical
marijuana, a driver can be charged with a negligence per se violation
in Nevada. This means the driver can be charged simply by virtue of being
found to have the presence of drugs in his or her system.
Additionally, drivers in border areas, like South Lake Tahoe, Truckee and
Sacramento, may have a medical marijuana card in one state, but may routinely
drive back and forth across the border. Being stopped and found to be
in possession of marijuana in Nevada, with a California medical marijuana
card (or vice versa) can have serious legal consequences. In such cases,
it is probable that you will face charges of illegal drug possession.
In many cases, a Nevada criminal defense attorney will attack these cases
on probable cause grounds. Law enforcement is busy sending officers to
training, which allegedly permits them to detect the presence of drugs
in a driver’s system. From a defense perspective, such training
is no more legitimate than field sobriety testing — which is simply
an officer’s opinion of your guilt. In light of the fact that the
officer’s job is to collect evidence of your guilt, a motorist doesn’t
stand a chance.
Thus far, the NHTSA’s Drug Evaluation and Certification program has
trained 6,000 officers and 1,000 instructors in 46 states. Allegedly,
the training permits the officer to recognize symptoms of impairment by
drugs other than alcohol.
If you are facing charges in Reno or Lake Tahoe, contact Joey Gilbert Law
to discuss your rights. Call (775) 574-4774