How The Defense Can Use Scientific Experts In Prescription DUI Trials
How Often Do You Have To Employ Science And Specialists And Experts And Things Like That In Your Defense Strategy In These Types Of Prescription DUI Cases?
Well, on the cases where the prosecutor doesn’t back down (so to speak), we do have to employ science and get expert witnesses to come in and explain and draw the conclusion that, based on a level of drug in your system, you’re under the influence of it and it’s causing you to be incapable of safely operating your vehicle. It’s hard for the prosecution to make that connection, so we use the defense expert to say, “Well, that’s almost impossible.” There are so many things that affect a person regarding whether the drug is causing a response in the body. It depends on tolerance, how long they’ve been taking the medication (whether it’s the first day or day 100), the dose, how long ago they took it, and all those different variables. It makes it almost impossible to say that, because it’s in their system, they were under the influence of it.
They would need to do all kinds of special testing and know all those variables—when they took it last, how much they took, how long they have been taking it, etc. We use experts to say that they don’t have all that information and that there’s no way they could have that information because they had one sample taken from them at this time and place, and that’s the blood test after the arrest. When we bring in an expert to do that, then we have a lot of success.
When It Comes To These Prescription Medication DUI Cases, Why Do Suspects Need Someone Who Is Really Experienced In Or Primarily Focuses On DUIs?
Well, to answer that question, I have to go back to the technical aspects of these types of cases. Our laboratory here in Utah uses these scientific principles to break down this person’s blood. You have to think about this. They are using a sample of blood, and they’re going to take an eye droplet of it, run it through a machine, separate out all the different compounds in it, and try to identify what’s there: what the compounds are, and how much of the compound is present in that little tiny sample. They are using these high-tech machines that are analytical. It’s basically analytical chemistry.
They’re using liquid chromatography. That’s how our lab is testing these samples. That’s the process they use to separate the different compounds in the blood. Then they shoot it into what’s called a tandem mass spectrometer. This mass spectrometer is just two of those machines hooked together, and it analyzes the chemical structure of the compounds, and it’s very technical—very complicated stuff. If they’re going to win these cases, the attorney who is handling the case has to follow along when that lab technician is on the witness stand saying, “Well, we ran it through this machine, and the tandem mass spectrometer said it was this.” You have to know what they’re talking about.
The attorneys I know who solely take DUI cases try to keep up with this technology. They try to understand all the scientific terms and how the medications affect the body. In addition to that, they have to know and keep current on all of the DUI laws. The DUI laws are always changing. The penalties are changing. It’s a full-time job to keep up with all that and to understand all of the science and the law to make sure people aren’t getting taken advantage of.
Is There Anything Else That We Should Know About Prescription Medication DUIs In The State Of Utah?
Well, I think probably the biggest thing is that there is a defense. After reading and going over all of this, there is a defense. It’s not easy for the prosecution to prove these types of cases, and they should not go in and just plead guilty without at least talking to an attorney. Most of the DUI attorneys I know will offer a free consultation and sit down with the person face to face and explain some of this information that I’ve provided here today about the science behind the blood samples and the law and how it affects the case. I think that they should take advantage of that before just going in and thinking there’s no hope. Go ahead and take advantage of a free consultation from a DUI attorney.