Interviewer: What are the different kinds of drugs that you are seeing DUI cases with?

Michael Munoz: It’s possible to get a drug DUI with any type of illegal drugs and it is also possible to get a charge of drug DUI even if you have a prescription for that drug. The most common drugs that I see for DUIs are, DUIs that involve a person who has marijuana in their system, and DUIs that involve prescription drugs and that can be a wide range of things from pain killers to Ambien to anti-anxiety medications. Those are the types of DUIs that I most commonly see.

Typical Scenario of a Drug Related DUI After a Traffic Stop

Interviewer: When we’re talking about illegal drugs, what typically happens, what’s the scenario that happens when a police officer stops someone?

Michael Munoz: They can, an officer can stop someone, usually, legally it is supposed to be based on a traffic stop or something that they notice that is suspicious and if they make the stop and they contact the driver, the officer is trained to be hyper observant, to use all his senses in terms of whether he smells anything, he looks at the drivers eyes to see if their blood-shot or watery, he tries to smell if there is an odor coming from the vehicle, especially from the driver themselves and so he’s also paying attention to the drivers mannerisms, whether or not they seem nervous, they’ll always ask for license and registration. Officers look to see whether or not someone can get and find their license and registration in a timely manner, how they are doing it, their coordination. So an officer is going to start off every investigation in that matter.

Police Officers Will Look For the Smell Of Marijuana if they Suspect Drug Abuse

Interviewer: What are the first indications that a police officer will look for when they stop someone for marijuana for instance?

Michael Munoz: When they are approaching the car, like I said, they are going to look for the smell of marijuana, when they approach the person, they are going to look at the driver, they are going to look at how the driver is acting, they are going to look at their eyes to see if they are bloodshot, odor, they are going to ask the driver if they had done any drugs or had any alcohol to drink, that’s what the officer is looking for.

Once a Police Officer Suspects a DUI He Will Administer the Field Sobriety Tests

Interviewer: Do they then perform a roadside field sobriety test, like they do with alcohol?

Michael Munoz: Once an officer decides that he wants to initiate a DUI investigation, he usually will ask or order a person to do field sobriety tests. Those field sobriety tests are really meant to test impairment, which is called divided attention. They are more effective for people who have been drinking alcohol. There are more specific types of tests they can use to see if someone is under the influence of a drug that’s not alcohol, that’s called a DRE examination, a Drug Recognition Examination. To conduct those examinations, the officer has to have special training, they also must have gone through what’s called the DRE School, that is more intensive.

Field Sobriety tests Are Considered to be More Effective For People Drinking Alcohol

Those types of tests, the officer will usually take the person back to the station, they’ll test their blood pressure, their pulse rate, they will look at their muscle rigidity, if their muscles are rigid or not, they’ll do multiple different eye tests, they’ll look for convergence, or lack of convergence, they’ll do HGN tests, they’ll do a multiple battery of tests, they’ll also on a DRE test, they will also put the person in a dark room, they will have them look at a series of lights and then they will test whether or not their pupils dilate or not. Those are all part of the Drug Recognition Examination. The standard field sobriety tests, the ones done on scene, the standardized ones are the walk and turn, the one leg stand, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, also known as HGN. Those are some of the standardized ones that you will see.

By Michael Munoz

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