The Use Of Drug Tests In Drugged Driving Cases In New Jersey
How Are Drug Tests Used In Drugged Driving Investigations?
Drug tests, or “toxicology”, are used in drugged driving investigations – though toxicology only tests for the mere presence of a substance and it doesn’t quantify the amount. In other words, a drug test can tell you whether or not a person has a substance in their body, but it cannot tell us how much of that substance is in the sample.
So, drug tests don’t give us much probative information, and toxicology reports usually show something in the blood or urine of 55% of people arrested for DUI – even if they’re not impaired.
Is A Chemical Test Enough Evidence To Be Convicted For Drug DWI Case In New Jersey?
Depending on the chemical test evidence, the question of whether you’re convicted goes to the element of your impairment by drugs or alcohol. In drugged driving cases, they’ll frequently use laboratory analysis and toxicology results.
Still, these results are not probative because they only show the presence of a substance, not how much is there. Instead, the state must rely on observational evidence to get a conviction.
When it comes to breath testing, we use breath as a proxy for blood. In this way, there are certain assumptions that the law makes…
One assumption is that the amount of alcohol in 2,100 “parts” of your breath is equivalent to one “part” of alcohol in your blood. This is where the percentages in a BAC reading come from (0.08%, 0.10%, etc.)
If you can defeat the assumption above, then you may be able to defeat the DUI charge altogether. So, how do you do this?
Suppose a person has a medical condition like Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), where some of the breath will come from the stomach rather than the lungs. Alternatively, maybe the person had dentures that reserved extra alcohol in their mouth at the time of testing.
As you can see, some conditions can defeat the assumption that all the vapor entering the breathalyzer machine comes from the lungs. Displaying this to the prosecution or the judge can show that the breathalyzer reading may be inaccurate.
What Is A Drug Recognition Expert? When Are They Used In A DWI Investigation In New Jersey?
If the police allege that you were driving under the influence of a drug, they are likely to bring in a Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) as a secondary witness to testify against you in court.
It’s important to note that prosecutors like to call these professionals Drug Recognition Experts, while defense attorneys will call them Drug Recognition Evaluators. This is because (as of December 2022) calling a DRE an expert instead of an evaluator is an open question in New Jersey in a case called State V. Olenowski. This case will determine whether a DRE’s opinion is admissible at trial as expert testimony.
A DRE’s opinion largely depends on the outcome of a “drug influence evaluation”, though it also involves other factors, such as general observations – then the actual toxicology comes into play later.
A DRE must testify when there’s a low BAC or breath test result of 0.00% on the alcohol scan.
Another issue involving DREs (which we came to learn about via the case mentioned above), is they are an attempt by the state to make it easier to convict people. We have discovered that 55% of the general adult population is on some medication or drug that would appear positive for the toxicology analysis.
One of the main things that DREs are using as proof to determine whether one is “impaired” by drugs is a toxicology screen which only tests for the presence of a drug. This means that they’re using a test that would identify drugs that would probably be present in the blood or urine samples of 55% of the population as proof that a substance has impaired a person.
So, as of December 2022, this is currently being challenged – but we’ll have to wait and see how the New Jersey Supreme Court rules. Oral arguments are scheduled to be before the court in early January, and they’ll probably issue an opinion two or three months later.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for DUI Law In New Jersey, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.
An initial consultation is your next best step for more information on the Use Of Drug Tests In Drugged Driving Cases In NJ. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (732) 218-9090 today.
Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 218-9090