Strategies for Fighting Drug Recognition Expert Evidence
Faced with disturbing statistics on drugged driving accidents, the law enforcement community will be cracking down on drug crimes in Florida and across the US. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 44 percent of victims killed in car accidents tested positive for controlled substances. This figure is up 28 percent from just one decade earlier. Plus, enforcement of drug laws extends beyond driving as the opioid crisis continues, as officers are motivated to pursue drug possession and trafficking offenses.
Therefore, Florida police are increasing their use of drug recognition experts (DREs), both when making arrests and in court. These professionals are specially trained to spot physical, behavioral, and other effects a person experiences when under the influence of drugs. However, you still have the opportunity to defend against the charges and a Florida drug crimes defense lawyer can help.
How DREs Detect Controlled Substances
An officer must complete a training and certification program to become a DRE, during which they learn the different characteristics that a person displays after consuming drugs. At the scene, a DRE refers to a matrix of controlled substances and cross-checks your symptoms to determine the type of drug you used. The DRE will examine:
- Your eyes, for redness, blurred vision, and your ability to focus;
- Your vital signs, especially for elevated temperature, blood pressure, heartbeat, and other effects of drug use;
- Your muscle tone and reflexes, which are more relaxed when using some drugs – and more tense for other controlled substances;
- Your statements and responses to questioning; and,
- Any other relevant circumstances.
This initial investigation by a DRE at the scene will not include any chemical tests, which can only be conducted under controlled circumstances. As such, the DRE testimony is very subjective and skewed in favor of law enforcement.
Strategies for Defending Drugged Driving and Drug Offenses
Because of the subjectivity of the DRE evidence, there are multiple tactics for defending against drug crimes. Depending on your case, a defense attorney may:
- Point out a lack of evidence based upon the drug matrix used by the DRE;
- Contest the findings of the DRE based upon the fact that your signs and symptoms were normal;
- Address other explanations for the DRE’s findings, such as having a medical condition, allergies, fatigue, or other factors;
- Dispute the DRE’s assertion that your results were abnormal, since the notion of what’s average or normal can vary widely; or,
- Argue that the DRE exam is essentially a medical diagnosis being offered by a person who is not a physician, nurse, or other health care provider.
Consult with a Florida Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Regarding Your Case
If you were arrested for drugged driving, drug possession, trafficking, or related crimes, retaining skilled legal counsel is essential. DRE testimony is highly subjective, which means it’s possible to raise questions regarding reasonable doubt – thereby preventing a prosecutor from getting a conviction. For more information, please contact Fort Lauderdale drug crimes attorney Kevin J. Kulik. We can set up a consultation to review your case and discuss strategy.