Drugged driving has recently become the topic of conversation among legislators across the country, with law enforcement officials badgering lawmakers to give them more power to keep drug-impaired drivers off the roads. A recent investigative report in New York that appeared in a an article published found that even though drug-impaired driving arrests are on the rise, law enforcement officers are often unable to prosecute those who present dangers to others due to outdated laws.
One issue in New York that makes it difficult for officers to prosecute people for drugged driving is that the list of drugs contained in the state’s public health code is seriously out-of-date and, as a result, often does not even mention some of the drugs commonly used by impaired drivers. In New York, this matters because a person can only be charged with impaired driving if they are found to have been under the influence of a drug that is written on the state’s list. If the drug is not listed, then drivers can go free.
For example, the current list does not mention some of the most popular drugs used today including bath salts, synthetic marijuana and propellants from spray cans. One recent case illustrates how this outdated list can impact real-world cases. In Nassau County, NY, police recently pulled a woman over for driving erratically and swerving in and out of her lane of traffic. The woman appeared to be impaired and even admitted to using bath salts prior to driving. Despite all this she was never charged with DUI because the variety of bath salts she consumed were not found on the state’s list of drugs.
Another problem that legislators mention with New York’s existing drugged driving law is that officers are required to name the drug before a driver can be charged. This has proven problematic numerous times, most recently in a high-profile case where a man crashed his Range Rover into a group of vehicles stopped due to traffic. The accident left a 60-year-old woman dead and shattered the spine of her husband.
Despite the severity of the accident, police administered a blood test to the driver that looked for seven of the most common categories of drugs. All the results came back negative and it appeared that the driver would be able to avoid charges until the department received a tip that the man was a known user of GHB. Once officers were able to identify the drug they were able to conduct a specific test for it. He was eventually charged with drugged driving and manslaughter.
Though these issues with the state’s drugged driving laws frustrate law enforcement officials, criminal defense experts in the state caution legislators to not overreact and add large numbers of new drugs to the list. The problem with adding new drugs to the state’s list too quickly is that research is often slow to prove the drugs actually impact a person’s ability to drive. If drugs are added to the list before it’s known how they impact driving ability then it is possible that people could face criminal prosecution despite never having been impaired.
If Arrested For DWI with Drugs in Minneapolis, Minnesota
In Minnesota, DUI laws involving drugs are very serious and can be complex. The law with regard to such conduct can differ dramatically depending on the drug that is found in the driver’s system. It is extremely important to meet with a DWI Attorney in Minnesota to review your case along with the results of any blood or urine tests to determine if any legal defenses exist in your particular case.
Source: Article written by Pei-Sze Cheng, published at NBCNewYork.com.