When most people here the phrase “driving under the influence” they immediately assume it refers to driving under the influence of alcohol. While driving under the influence, or DUI, certainly does offer refer to drinking and driving, it can also involve “drugged driving.” “Drugged driving” refers to driving while under the influence of illicit drugs, prescription medications, or even over the counter medications. If you have been charged with DUI involving drugs in the State of Nebraska you may be wondering if DUI lawyers handle drugged driving cases. Because the elements of the crime are the same, whether alcohol or drugs are involved, most Nebraska DUI lawyers can also handle driving under the influence of drugs, or DUI, cases; however, if you need representation you should look for a DUI lawyer who has sufficient experience handling drugged driving cases to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the best representation possible.
Is Drugged Driving Common?
Drugged driving is not a new problem on the nation’s highways. As long as people have been driving motor vehicles there have been people driving while under the influence of drugs. In recent years, however, drugged driving has gained much more attention by law enforcement and the public as studies show how common it really is. According to a recently released report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, the number of drivers with alcohol in their system declined an amazing one-third in the seven year period from 2007 to 2014. During that same time period, the same report indicates that the number of motorists on the nation’s roadways who are operating a vehicle with illegal drugs in their system has increased significantly.
The NTSA first began conducting roadside surveys back in 1973. Since that time, the number of drivers who tested positive for alcohol in their system has declined by more than three-quarters. Those same surveys conducted during 2013 and 2014 though show that 22 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety, including both “street drugs”, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter-medications. While illicit (“street”) drugs have long been a problem in the U.S., in recent years prescription drug abuse has increased dramatically. In fact, studies tell us that prescription drugs account for almost one-third of the overall drug problem in the United States.
What Does the Law Say in Nebraska?
In the State of Nebraska law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Specifically, Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196 states:
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual physical control of any motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of alcoholic liquor or of any drug; (Emphasis added)
(b) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of his or her blood; or
(c) When such person has a concentration of eight-hundredths of one gram or more by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of his or her breath.
As you may notice, one important difference between DUI involving alcohol and DUI involving drugs is that there is no per se law for drugged driving. Drivers with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher are considered to be “under the influence” but no corresponding law exists for drugged driving.
Is Defending a DUI Involving Drugs the Same As Defending a DUI Involving Alcohol?
Although the elements of the offense are the same, some of the potential defenses are different when the allegations involve drugs instead of alcohol. It is also more difficult to prove that a defendant was even using drugs unless a blood or urine test was done on the defendant at the time of his/her arrest.