Cocaine Drug DUI
Traditional DUIs involve a driver who is impaired because of alcohol. However, you can also be convicted of a DUI if you are under the influence of prescription drugs or illegal drugs, such as cocaine. Cocaine is smoked, inhaled, eaten, or injected to produce stimulation in the nervous system. When used, it can result in significant impairments in the ability to drive a car. It can, among other things, impair the judgment needed to drive. If you are charged with a cocaine DUI in Arizona, you should consult Phoenix cocaine DUI lawyer James E. Novak.Fighting a Cocaine DUI Charge in Arizona
Under A.R.S. 28-1381, the following two circumstances are criminally penalized: (1) a driver is driving or physically controlling a car under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or vapor-releasing substances when the impairment is to the slightest degree, or (2) a driver is under control of a car or driving with an alcohol concentration of at least .08 within 2 hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a car, and the blood alcohol concentration arises as a result of alcohol being drunk before or while driving or being in physical control of the car.
Although alcohol and drug DUIs are often prosecuted in the same way, the distinction between them is in how easily or accurately a police officer can identify impairment. Alcohol DUIs tend to be easier to discover. Generally, breathalyzers are considered reliable tools that allow officers to identify whether or not there is alcohol concentrated in certain amounts in a suspect's blood. If you are caught with a blood alcohol content at or above .08, a police officer has the legal right to arrest you and charge you with a DUI.
It is less easy to identify drug DUIs. Each drug causes different kinds of impairments and lasts for different amounts of time within the body. It may be possible for a cocaine DUI attorney in the Phoenix area to fight the charges by challenging the procedures used to get probable cause to arrest. In Arizona, if a driver is visibly impaired upon probable cause, and the laboratory testing comes back positive for an impairing drug, the suspect can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs. This is different from other states, where how much of a particular drug is found in a suspect's system can have an effect on whether or not the person is charged.
The first issue is whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion that you were impaired by drugs or alcohol while driving. A reasonable suspicion involves more than a hunch. You must have been doing something that the officer can identify as the reason why he believed that you were impaired by drugs or alcohol, or that you had committed some other crime. A reasonable suspicion could be triggered by speeding excessively, not turning on your lights even though it is dark, or weaving between lanes, for example.
If the officer had a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, such that he could stop you, a Phoenix cocaine DUI attorney can examine what he did next. The NHTSA has stated that field sobriety tests are valid for alcohol consumption but not cocaine consumption. There are different field sobriety tests that have varying degrees of validity. The NHTSA has found the horizontal gaze nystagmus test the most valid. This is a test in which the police officer will look for twitching in your eyes while your eyes follow a moving object. The NHTSA has admitted that cocaine does not cause eye twitching, so we can potentially challenge the validity of this test for a cocaine DUI charge.
Other field sobriety tests look at whether a driver is able to keep balanced and remember instructions. There is no scientific research to show that these tests could reveal that you were impaired because of cocaine use. It may be possible to persuade the jury that this sort of evidence could not give rise to the probable cause necessary to arrest you for a cocaine DUI.Consult a Cocaine DUI Lawyer in the Phoenix Area
Prosecutors will typically try to prove a cocaine DUI in a number of different ways, including by presenting expert testimony. It is critical to retain an attorney who understands how to cross-examine expert witnesses on this issue. You should take seriously any charges related to a cocaine DUI. James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area, including in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other areas of Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.