Use and abuse of powerfully addictive drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids like Oxycontin have thrown the country into crisis on many fronts. Massachusetts has been plagued for years with heroin addiction and now also finds itself dealing with the synthetic opioid epidemic. One of the ways it has manifested is in a growing number of drugged driving cases in Boston. These can result in serious and fatal car accidents.
Although drugged and drunk driving cases are similar, there are some big differences. Specifically, the ways in which evidence is gathered and impairment proven.
Proving alcohol impairment is fairly straightforward, as it moves quickly through the system and presence of the toxin in the blood at certain levels is a clear giveaway of intoxication. Plus, many law enforcement officers readily know the signs and symptoms of alcohol use. Conversely, it may require additional proof to determine if someone is on drugs as opposed to having some type of medical issue. It can also be complicated if one has a valid prescription, though no prescription excuses one for driving while impaired. These difficulties in identifying drug impairment are at the heart of why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a course and certification for Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) who may be needed to testify in both criminal and civil trials. Continue reading