Interviewer: People may think they’re safe let’s say they’re taking Ambien or Lunesta or they’re in pain taking Vicodine or Percocet or Oxycontin. But if they’re driving, can they be pulled over and cited for DWI because they’re believed to be impaired?
Carl: That’s correct. What I’ve seen is people who have prescriptions for a variety of medication, generally wind up taking those medications in a way that wasn’t exactly prescribed. They have prescription for them, but they’re mixing and matching, which is something that the doctor would never have approved of.
Perhaps they’ve added an element of being fatigued, working long hours, maybe they have a small amount of alcohol in their system so there’s an amplified effect. Even though they’re not going to register being legally drunk, they would be impaired by all of these separate drugs. Furthermore, when I was prosecuting in Burgin County, I encountered quite a few people under the influence of narcotic drugs. Marijuana is considered a controlled dangerous substance in the state of New Jersey.
DREs (Drug Recognition Experts) & Their Role in DUI Cases
Interviewer: Do they use what’s called DRE’s in New Jersey? They are known as the drug recognition experts.
Carl: Yes. In fact, I’ve had an occasion to work with several drug recognition experts in the state of New Jersey. These experts are used to try to determine whether someone’s under the influence of a substance, and try to prove that in court. I don’t believe that New Jersey has adopted the DRE as a standard. Even though they are considered experts, they are certainly vulnerable to a cross examination by an experienced attorney.
Interviewer: How would someone know if a DRE is being called in? Will suddenly a new police officer be questioning them at the station? Will it be obvious when a DRE shows up?
What Will a DRE Do?
Carl. Yes it will be. That’s exactly the way they’ll be introduced into the case. It will be a new officer that will come in. They’ll do a medical work-up. They’ll take your blood pressure. They’ll look into your eyes. They might do field sobriety tests all over again. They’ll take your temperature.
They’ll ask you a whole series of questions to try to determine your cognitive ability, whether you’re confused and whether you’re aware of where you are. Many of the tests will seem similar to those performed in the field sobriety tests you have taken, but the DRE’s examination will be very thorough.
By Carl Spector