Tiger Woods was charged with DUI drugs in Florida. According to the CNN news report, there was evidence of fresh damage to his car, he was found asleep at the wheel and failed field sobriety tests. Woods did submit to a breath test and registered a 0.00, revealing no alcohol in his system according to the breath test results.
In Massachusetts, an OUI drugs charge involves proving the following. That a person operated a motor vehicle, on a public way, while under the influence of a narcotic drug, depressant or stimulant. The Commonwealth has the proven of proving what particular drug an individual is alleged to be under the influence of. This is one of the more difficult elements of a DUI drugs charge for the Commonwealth to prove. Often, if there are no drugs found in the car, no smell such as in an OUI marijuana case, the evidence will be based on an admission or statement of the motorist.
According to multiple media reports, including the Boston Herald, Woods admits to taking several prescription medications, pain killers and Vicodin. The State will need expert testimony regarding the impact these medications would have on his ability to drive and will have to present evidence of the amount or quantity of the medication in his system.
Media reports indicate that Woods had fallen asleep in his car and did not know where he was when he was stopped. It is obvious he was not in his right frame of mind to drive; however, DUI drugs laws require the Government to prove more than just that something was wrong with a person, but what precise drug the defendant was under the influence of. This may be a difficult hurdle in this case. Additionally, Woods may attempt to suppress his statements to the police officers raising issues of whether his Miranda rights were violated.
While in Massachusetts negotiating a DUI charge typically does not occur, in Florida prosecutors do have discretion to reduce a charge to reckless operation. It is believed that Woods has no criminal record and this is a potential way to resolve the case for Woods short of trial.
One interesting part of the media report was that Woods was asked to recite the alphabet backwards. I have not seen an officer in Massachusetts require a person to recite it backwards in a police report, though clients have indicated that it was required. Additionally, other field sobriety tests like a one leg stand and nine step walk and turn were not tested to measure impairment from drugs. Currently, in Massachusetts a case is pending in our State Supreme Court to address whether field sobriety tests can be used in cases other than alcohol. The appeal addressed an OUI marijuana charge; however, the SJC’s reasoning is likely to impact any type of OUI drugs charge.
Attorney DelSignore can be reached at 781-686-5924 and often posts topics related to DUI Defense and trial practice on his DelSignore Law Facebook page.