New York State Police officers got a two-for-one deal when a man called in to report being side-swiped by a drunken driver -- only to find himself arrested as well for driving high.
The Daily Freeman reports that Albany resident Malcolm Sidbury called in a hit-and-run accident on the Taconic State Parkway. Officers tracked down the alleged hit-and-run driver, Thomas Robbins, and arrested him for a number of vehicle violations including driving while intoxicated. A breath test revealed Robbins had a 0.25-percent blood alcohol concentration.
However, police also arrested Sidbury for driving under the influence of drugs, which raises the question: How did they know?
Drug DUIs: Measuring Drug Impairment
Unlike alcohol DUIs, which are usually tested by a combination of field sobriety tests and chemical tests to measure the blood alcohol concentration, drugged driving arrests typically hinge on an officer's identifying signs of possible drug intoxication. These can include:
- Erratic driving. If an officer observes you driving erratically, the officer has the reasonable suspicion they need to stop you and perform further investigation for possible drugged driving, even if you haven't broken any laws.
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. This test allows officers to observe involuntary jerking of the eyes as they follow horizontal motion.
- The behavior of the driver. Officers are trained to look for signs of impairment, both from illicit drugs and prescription medication. If an officer believes you were impaired, you can be charged with DUI even for driving while taking doctor-prescribed medication.
Drug Swabs Are Possible Too
In some jurisdictions like Los Angeles, law enforcement officers have begun using drug swabs at DUI checkpoints to test for drugs. Though these swabs are still relatively new, like any other chemical test performed at DUI checkpoints, refusal to take the test will result in automatic suspension of your driver's license.
If you are charged with drunken or high driving, an experienced DUI attorney may be able to challenge the legality of the methods used by the officers who arrested you.
As for the allegedly drugged and drunken drivers in the New York case, they were ticketed and ordered to report to court at a later date. If convicted, they could face fines, potential jail time, and a suspension or revocation of their driver's licenses.
- DUI Offense Basics (Findlaw)
- Three Ways to Challenge a Field Sobriety Test (Findlaw's Blotter)
- DUI Traffic Stop FAQs (Findlaw)
- Man Cites 'Mythbusters' in Refusal to Take Sobriety Test (Findlaw's Blotter)