The Federal government has decided to spend hundreds of millions of dollars training ordinary police officers as “drug recognition experts.” The claim is that our highways are unsafe due to drivers impaired by drugs, and this includes prescribed medications. While the highway safety goal of removing impaired drivers is laudable, the reality is something much different.
The vast majority of the 12 step drug recognition evaluation is subjective, as is the definition of impairment. And the definition of drug is so broad that anyone taking almost any kind of medication can potentially fall prey to an OWI arrest.
And these arrests are going to become increasingly common because each year Michigan is adding to the number of trained officers. In 2011 a total of 15 Michigan law enforcement officers and four prosecutors went through the DRE training; prior to this class, Michigan had only three DREs statewide. This year many more police officers, judges and prosecutors are being trained. In 2013 the number of DRE trained officers will go up again, and it’s not stopping any time soon. The Federal government has pledged 42 Million Dollars to the mid-west states for this DRE training.
According to the Michigan State Police web site:
DREs are trained to recognize signs of impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol and to identify the category or categories of drugs causing the impairment. DREs conduct a 12- step evaluation process to make this determination.
There are many potential problems with this evaluation and program. Perhaps the most important of them is that any person taking their lawfully prescribed medication can rather easily be arrested and wrongfully convicted of OWI or operating while intoxicated simply because their eyes didn’t look right and they could not walk a straight line to the satisfaction of the officer. For more information regarding this 12 step evaluation see: Drug Recognition Experts in Michigan.
Being arrested and convicted for prescription drug impairment is identical to being arrested and convicted for drunk driving in Michigan. The penalties are exactly the same!
If you have been arrested for drugged driving in Michigan then it is essential that you hire a well trained defense lawyers. Very few Michigan lawyers have been trained in the DRE methods. When looking for a DUI lawyer to help you be sure to ask him or her what specialized training they have. Without such training your conviction a near certainty.
Patrick T. Barone
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