Gladden Legal, LLC

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Alcohol is not the only substance in DUI cases

When considering the dangers posed by motorists who are driving under the influence, most Georgia citizens immediately think of alcohol abuse. While the majority of illegally impaired drivers continue to be due to alcohol consumption, drugged driving has seen a dramatic increase. Drugged driving may include legal use of one's own prescription drugs, abuse of another's prescription drugs, or legal or illegal marijuana use.

The propriety and legality of the use of a drug by a driver is irrelevant to whether or not the driver meets the state definition of an impaired driver. Investigations by federal transportation agencies show a significant increase in the past decade in the number of drivers testing positive for drugs who have been responsible for injury or fatal vehicle crashes. The two leading drugs are opioid-based prescription drugs and marijuana, which has recently been decriminalized in several states.

Federal officials are calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take the lead in developing standardized roadside tests for drug impairment similar to the ones in existence for alcohol. The legal system has accepted breath and blood alcohol content tests as reliable in establishing per se impairment limits for alcohol, yet none exist for drug impairment. Law enforcement personnel have been trained on identifying drug use, but establishment of illegal impairment remains subject to a case-by-case approach.

Where a driver is cited for a DUI charge, it should not be automatically concluded a guilty verdict will follow. A DUI defense lawyer might attack the evidence as unreliable or illegally obtained in an effort to achieve the best possible resolution for the case under the circumstances.

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