MASSACHUSETTS OUI DRUGS
Massachusetts OUI law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs in the same manner as driving under the influence of alcohol. In cases where, there is insufficient evidence of OUI alcohol, a police officer may still believed that you are impaired and charge you with driving under the influence of drugs. Typically, most officers will attempt to bring an OUI alcohol charge before an OUI drugs charge because it is easier for the officer to charge operating under the influence of alcohol.
A charge of OUI drugs is difficult for the Commonwealth to prove at trial. There are four reasons for this:
- In many cases, the Commonwealth cannot prove what drug you were under the influence of;
- Many officers are not trained as a Drug Recognition Expert;
- Expert testimony is often needed to prove the impact a drug would have on your ability to drive.
- Field sobriety tests used by officers in OUI drugs arrests were designed to detect impairment by alcohol not drugs; accordingly, the officer’s investigation is not geared toward detecting an impairment by drugs.
- An OUI drugs charge requires the Commonwealth to prove what drug caused the impairment
A trial on an OUI drugs charge, the Commonwealth cannot simply allege that you were under the influence of some unknown drug, but most prove beyond a reasonable doubt what drug you were under the influence of and that it is a drug that is listed in the law that governs operating under the influence of drugs. For the Commonwealth to prove a DUI drug charge, the Commonwealth will have to show that the motorist was operating under the influence of a narcotics drug, depressant or stimulant, or any drug listed as habit forming by the United States Attorney.
- Many officers are not trained as DREs, so-called drug recognition experts.
An OUI drug charge may arise based on statements or admissions from the driver of drug consumption or based on an odor of a drug such as marijuana.
Like an OUI alcohol case, this requires proof that the narcotic drug reduced a motorist’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. A police officer may use field sobriety tests and or a DRE exam, which must be performed by an officer trained as a DRE or drug recognition expert.
- What types of tests are used by officer to detect impairment by drugs?
A police officer will evaluate a motorist’s, coordination and balance to determine impairment by drugs. Officers will also use a test referred to as the horizontal gaze and nystagmus test and a VGN test, vertical gaze and nystagmus. In some OUI drugs arrests, an officer will ask motorist to submit to a 12 step test referred to as a DRE evaluation. An officer suspecting a driver is under the influence of drugs may also request a blood or urine test. At trial, an experienced OUI lawyer in Massachusetts can challenge the accuracy and scientific reliability of these tests as part of the defense at trial.