Interviewer: Typically, How long does a drug related DUI take? Is it going to take longer than a typical alcohol related DUI?
Michael Munoz: It could be in the court system a little longer because usually the crime lab takes longer to test the blood on a drug DUI. There’s a longer wait time so that usually pushes back the timeline of the case. They do require a considerable amount of work on the drug DUIs, depending on the type of drug and also if it’s a prescription drug. If it’s a prescription drug DUI case where the person has a valid prescription that could take a very long time because there’s a very good chance that case might go to trial.
Drug Related DUI Cases Involving Illegal Search And Seizure By the Police
Interviewer: Have you ever had an experience or a case that involves any illegal search and seizure where maybe the police officer searched through your car without permission, found some marijuana or something like that, could that even have any weight in a case?
Michael Munoz: Now you are talking about physical drugs vs. a DUI, very different things. It is possible that an officer could obtain a blood or breath result in violation of a person’s rights, but those are going to have very unique circumstances when it comes to DUI law. There are certain steps an officer must take before he stops your vehicle, he has to have reasonable suspicion that a crime is occurring or that you committed a traffic violation before he makes a DUI arrest, he must have probable cause that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and then before he takes blood, he either has to have a warrant or he has to have consent to take blood.
There are Multiple Steps in Progression that an Officer Must Take to Ensure a Valid DUI Arrest
So there are multiple steps in progression that an officer must do to have a valid DUI arrest. What we do is we investigate all those issues and we challenge those steps every step of the way because we want to make sure that our clients rights are not violated. And I think that’s what you’re getting at. In terms of search and seizure for a physical drug, that’s a different animal altogether. If there are physical drugs in a vehicle and an officer searches the vehicle without a warrant, that could potentially create search and seizure issues for the benefit of a defendant but there are different law, different case law, different standards to apply when it comes to searching a vehicle and physical drugs.
If Someone Voluntarily Consents to a Search then that is an Exception to the Warrant
Interviewer: Let’s say a police officer will pull someone over, decide that the individual is under the influence of a drug, which is marijuana, then looks in the car and says I think I can see a pill case, or I think I see something there and then use it as evidence?
Michael Munoz: No, that’s an interesting scenario because the scenario you just brought up. So, all searches, any time an officer does a search or seizure, he needs to have a valid warrant but there are exceptions to the requirement, one is voluntarily. If someone voluntarily gives you permission to search, that is an exception to warrant. The other exception is the one you brought up is plain view. If an officer sees what he thinks to be drugs or evidence in plain view, then there is an argument that he does not need a warrant. There’s also an exception called the search incident to arrest, there is also an exception called an inventory search. There’s a lot of different exceptions an officer can use but they can also be challenged to see whether or not they’re valid. So I hope that answers the rest of your question.