When you hear about someone getting arrested for driving under the influence, you probably assume they were arrested because they consumed alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel. In most cases, you would be correct; however, driving under the influence (DUI) can also be the result of a motorist operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. An Omaha DUI lawyer explains the aptly named “driving under the influence of drugs.”
What Is Driving under the Influence of Drugs?
As the name implies, the criminal offense of driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID, involves a motorist who is operating a vehicle while under the influence of any type of drugs. This is where most people get confused. The law does not require the drug in question to be an illicit drug. Therefore, you could be guilty of DUID as a result of being high on heroin, taking too many of your prescription painkillers, or simply because you took too much over the counter cough syrup.
Nebraska Law and DUID
Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196 governs driving under the influence, reading as follows:
(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 can see, section (a) above is where the crime of driving under the influence of drugs is found. The law specifically mentions both alcohol and drugs while at the same time staying silent on what type of drugs are required for a violation of the law.
How Does the State Prove DUID?
Although driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs are fundamentally the same offense, the statute makes proving an accusation of DUI much easier than proving one of DUID. Before chemical breath test machines were commonplace, most state laws boiled down to nothing more than a version of section (a) above. Prosecutors consistently had problems securing convictions because the concept of “under the influence” is very subjective. Likewise, statutes making it illegal to “drive while intoxicated” were also problematic because whether or not a defendant is intoxicated is also very subjective. With the advent of breath test machines that offered the ability to test the amount of alcohol in a suspect’s breath, proving that a defendant was DUI became much easier. Breath test machines, however, cannot detect the presence of drugs in a suspect’s breath. For that, you need a blood test. Therefore, if a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of something other than alcohol, the officer may attempt to obtain permission for a blood draw instead of a breath test. If the blood test shows the presence of a controlled substance, the results may be used as evidence against the defendant. Keep in mind, however, that even if a blood test does show the presence of a controlled substance, unlike the presence of alcohol at a certain level, the presence of a controlled substance alone is not sufficient to prove that a defendant was driving under the influence. Once the presence of a controlled substance has been verified, the prosecutor must still prove that the defendant was “under the influence” of that substance at the time he/she was operating the vehicle.
The inherent difficulty a prosecutor faces in proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a defendant was driving under the influence of drugs should be reason enough to consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI attorney about your case if you are facing charges for DUID.
Contact an Omaha DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in the State of Nebraska, contact an Omaha DUI lawyer at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUID defense lawyer.