In Missouri, a DWI stands for driving while intoxicated and is often used interchangeably with the term “DUI,” or driving under the influence. DUID stands for driving under the influence of drugs; as opposed to the more frequent charge of DUI for alcohol. A driver can be charged with a DUID if his or her driving is impaired, regardless of the amount of drug/s consumed.
Five Misconceptions About DUI Drugs
1. A driving while on drugs case is more serious than an alcohol DUI.
Not at all. Both types of driving while intoxicated cases -alcohol or drugs, are equally serious from the defendant’s perspective because the consequences and penalties for either are the same should you be convicted.
From the prosecutor’s perspective, all impaired driving offenses are serious. One could even argue that in the current political climate, drunken driving offenses are given more attention and scrutiny than drugged driving, although that is beginning to change.
All other things being equal, your offense will also be the same. So, for instance, you will be charged with a first-time DWI-DUI if it’s your first ever driving while intoxicated offense, regardless of what the intoxicant is (alcohol, drugs or a combination.) And, on a first-time DWI or DUID, you’ll be just as eligible for the Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) program, should you decide to go that route.
Note however, that unlike a first-time DUI misdemeanor for alcohol impairment which is eligible for expungement, under current Missouri law, DUIDs are not eligible for expungement.
2. A DUID is hard to fight when it’s based on a blood test.
When police blood test for drugs, they need to direct the medical lab as to which drug/s to test for since the lab can’t analyze for every drug possible. Many times, this means the officer will need to take an educated guess as to what drug she/he thinks you were driving on.
A good DUI litigator can therefore discredit the drug testing process as unscientific in the eyes of the jury. This is possible whether blood or urine testing is used.
Jurors tend to favor technology and believe in “the machine.” That’s why in an alcohol DUI, it often requires that the defense put on an expert scientist to testify as to the inherent faults in a breathalyzer machine.
Conversely, a sample of blood that is tested at the hospital has no mystique of advanced technology associated with it. As such, blood testing and analysis can be countered in compelling ways before a jury, especially when hospital methods are compared to accepted scientific methodologies.
DUI blood draw procedures must also be followed to the letter. If not, blood samples can be affected by things such as iodine or improper use of preservatives. Your DUI defense attorney should be trained to look for and identify any such errors so they can be exploited in your favor.
3. A drugged driving case will be worse for me if it goes to trial.
A DUID can be easier to defend against at trial than a traditional DUI for several reasons. First and foremost, there’s no per se blood-alcohol level to test for in a drugged driving case.
The legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content is the benchmark for alcohol impairment that can be quickly tested for using a breathalyzer machine. In a drug related impaired driving case, there is no number set by Missouri as to legal impairment for any controlled substance. Thus, impairment by drugs is not readily quantifiable.
This is why the statutes generalize impaired driving on drugs as any amount of any controlled substance or drug that impairs the driver’s ability to operate safely. However, it’s much harder for prosecutors to prove that you were unable to operate safely without a quantifiable, standard limit.
4. The videotaped field sobriety tests will make me look guilty.
If you submitted to field sobriety tests (FSTs), you may or may not have been videotaped by the arresting officers. Even if your performance was taped, it may not be admissible into evidence. If you are 50 pounds or more overweight, you should not have been asked to do FSTs. If you are a woman who was wearing high heels, you should have been told to remove your shoes beforehand. And, if you suffer from certain medical conditions, your performance on FSTs is all but guaranteed to be dismal.
It’s surprising for DUI – DWI defendants to learn that police rarely conduct FSTs in the proper and approved manner. When all factors are considered, your field sobriety tests may be excluded from evidence after a qualified DUI attorney reviews them.
5. I told the officer I smoked pot earlier in the day, but was not currently high…so now I’m doomed anyway.
Admitting to guilt or incriminating facts is never a good thing for a suspect to do during any investigation. That said, DUID for marijuana can be particularly difficult for the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt because cannabis remains in the bloodstream for a long time; from several days up to weeks, depending on the individual.
The difficulty in establishing that you were cannabis impaired at the time of operation lies in the fact that marijuana affects every person to widely varying degrees. Your defense lawyer can demonstrate this before a jury. Alternatively, your case may be well-served in negotiating with the prosecutor for lesser charges; for instance, possession of paraphernalia.