With the legalization of recreational marijuana in New England, arrests for DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs) have gone up recently. However, there are some fundamental flaws in DUID enforcement which need to be discussed.
The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Protocol is Not Scientifically Proven
In a ruling issued on March 31, Judge Jennifer Tyne of Central Berkshire District Court called into question the validity of the DRE Protocol. The DRE protocol has been adopted by all 50 states and is used to evaluate whether or not a driver is under the influence of certain drugs. After a training program, law enforcement officers can be certified as Drug Recognition Experts.
The Court, however, ruled that DREs were not experts and that the training program lacked scientific validity. When the state was challenged to provide evidence that the training program was valid:
The state did not provide any evidence that the content of that training was accepted by the scientific community or was scientifically sound in the first place.
The court took into account three law enforcement studies, from 1985, 1986 and 1994, that formed the basis for the body of knowledge and the methodology of Polidoro’s training.
The court found faults in those methodologies and reporting in all three studies and determined that they were not a relevant or reliable source for the officer’s training.
Commenting on the proficiency of the DREs, Judge Tyne said:
As law enforcement has embraced these studies as the basis for their trainings, the Court finds that, `proficient,’ as used by law enforcement means a 43% to 49% accuracy rate for identifying those subjects with no drugs in their systems. The Court does not find this to be reliable, let alone proficient.
Based on the evidence presented at this hearing, the Court finds that the body of knowledge, the principles and the methods that the officer was instructed on are not reliable predictors of whether an individual is under the influence of certain narcotics.
You can read more about the Central Berkshire District Court ruling at: Judge tosses evidence in OUI stop by drug recognition expert.
The DRE protocol has been challenged in many states and a number of courts have also ruled it as lacking scientific backing and evidence. In 2012 case: State of Maryland v. Charles David Brightful, et al, No. K-10-04-259, Circuit Court for Carroll County, MD, the Court held:
Applying Md. R. 5-702 to the proposed DRE testimony, the Court finds that a drug recognition expert is not sufficiently qualified to render an opinion, that the testimony is not relevant, and the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect.
In that case, one of the expert witnesses, a psychiatrist, testified:
“I have got to tell you, your Honor, DRE is something that’s not foremost in the mind of those of us who take care of substance abusers, clinically or forensically. People are aware of it. But it’s… no one I know of, no physician I know of, would even consider using this matrix or the – even pieces of it in determining either whether someone was impaired on drugs or even more ridiculously to tell which specific drug category. It’s ridiculous. I can’t emphasize that enough.
How do these rulings affect people who were arrested for DUID?
In many cases, evidence can be successfully challenged and even thrown out by the court. DUID cases are complicated to defend because there is a lot of science involved which is above the heads of most attorneys. However, the right attorney can make it very difficult for the state to prove impairment.
Attorney Mike Bowser has never lost a DUI marijuana case. Ever.
If you have been arrested for DUID, whether it was for marijuana, prescription medication, or other drugs, it is in your best interest to find an attorney who is able to challenge the state based on science. Forensic science is not taught at law schools and not every attorney is qualified to challenge these cases.
Attorney Mike Bowser is one of the few attorneys in New England who is a certified as a DUI defense specialist. He has attended the renowned Forensic Chromatography course at Axion Labs and is widely respected for his professionalism and knowledge of science and law. Call 888-414-9202 today for your free case consultation.