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How is DUI Testing Done for Substances Other Than Alcohol?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

b2ap3_thumbnail_att-weitzner.jpgBy: Attorney Cameron Weitzner

It is often - but not always - fairly obvious when someone is drunk. The telltale lack of coordination, slurred speech, and of course, the smell can quickly tip off the police that they are dealing with a drunk driver. From there, measuring how drunk the arrestee is fairly straightforward and can be done using a blood test or breathalyzer. When the substance involved is something other than alcohol, determining whether a driver is under the influence can be a lot more complicated. If you are dealing with a drug DUI charge, your defense could be complicated and require the skill of an experienced lawyer. 

What Signs of Drug Intoxication Do Police Look For?

Many of these signs could be explained by something other than intoxication, but may still be used as evidence of a driver’s impairment. Police may suspect drug use if they see:

  • Lethargy - A driver who is slow to respond to questions or seems sleepy could be suspected of using downers like opiates or benzodiazepines. They could also be in shock after a car accident or even have a head injury. 

  • High-energy - Drivers who are speaking rapidly and seem to have racing thoughts or cannot stop moving may be suspected of using uppers like methamphetamine or cocaine. They could also merely be nervous. 

  • Eyes - Police officers often look closely at a driver’s eyes to check for several signs, such as redness and pupil dilation. Anything from allergies to tiredness can cause some of these signs. 

What Are the Problems With Chemical Testing for Drug DUIs?

Chemical tests, like blood and urine tests, will only tell the police whether the substance is present in the arrestee’s system. It does not necessarily reveal whether the driver is presently under the drug’s influence. 

For example, someone could have used cannabis several days ago and still have a positive test, even though the psychoactive effects of the THC have long since worn off. This can lead to sober people getting charged with DUI’s. People who are prescribed a controlled substance, but do not drive while under its effects, are at risk for a DUI arrest. 

False positives are also a big issue. The drug tests used by police after a DUI arrest are not foolproof, especially when handled incorrectly. There are stringent procedures for drug testing that must be followed correctly for the results to be reliable. Many of the same problems that can affect alcohol tests can also affect drug tests. If you failed a DUI drug test, the situation is not hopeless, but you will need a skilled attorney.

Contact a Wisconsin DUI Attorney

If you are facing drug-based DUI charges, GRGB Law can offer you quality legal representation. Our knowledgeable Milwaukee DUI lawyers are experienced at building strong defenses to drug DUI charges. Call us at 414-271-1440 for a free consultation. 




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