Woman holding cannabis

DUI – Drugs in Your System

A great deal of media and public attention is paid to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Less attention is focused on driving under the influence of drugs, although operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs occurs with significant regularity across the United States.

A survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that approximately 10 million motorists in the United States drove under the influence of illegal drugs within the preceding 12-month time period. In addition, over 18 percent of fatally injured drivers in the United States tested positive for drugs, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A person arrested for driving under the influence of drugs needs to understand his or her basic legal rights. This includes understanding how the bail bond process works.

In the aftermath of being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, the court will establish a bond amount on the case. This is the amount of money that must be posted with the court in order to a person charged with driving under the influence of drugs to win release from jail pending further judicial proceedings.

Depending on the amount of the bond, a person in jail on a driving under the influence of drugs charge may need to reach out to a bail bond professional. When a bail bond professional is engaged, the person in jail must come up with a small percentage of the total amount of the bail. Typically this amounts to 10 to 15 percent of the total bail amount.

This money is paid to the bail bond company. The bail bond professional then posts the bond with the court, which permits the incarcerated person to be released from jail.

Detecting Drugs in a Person’s System

Alcohol eliminates from a person’s body fairly rapidly. That is not the case with other drugs. For example, the psychoactive element contained in marijuana, THC, is detectable for up to five weeks after it has been used. Because of the extended length of time this can remain in a person’s system, there is no solid way to conclusively detect impairment at a particular point in time.

Cocaine, by comparison, usually is out of a person’s body within a day or two. Thus, its presence can be a better indicator that a person is operating a vehicle while under the influenced of drugs.

Elevated Crash Risks and Drug Recognition Experts

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration conceded in communications to Congress that the current understanding of drugs beyond alcohol makes it impossible to accurately ascertain when elevated levels of these substances cause an elevated crash risk for a motorist. In light of this reality, some jurisdictions use “Drug Recognition Experts.” These are uniquely trained police officers that are better able to ascertain drug impairment in motorists.

These officers are trained to closely examine a person’s eye movements, behavior and other factors that are indicative of drug influence. As of this time, 44 states and the District of Columbia have instituted Drug Evaluation and Classification Programs to train these types of police officers.

Legalized Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence of Drugs 

There are an increasing number of jurisdictions that have not only legalized the medical use of marijuana, but recreational use as well. This change in the laws across the United States, including in California, adds to the need to develop more effective ways of ascertaining if a motorist is impaired because of the use of a drug of some type, including marijuana.

The training initiated in over 40 states is likely to expand to other jurisdictions in the more immediate future. In addition, technology continues to be developed that many think will make it easier for law enforcement to ascertain if a motorist is impaired by a drug like marijuana or whether its presence in an individual’s system is residual from an earlier ingestion.

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