Interviewer: What percentage of DWIs do you see are related to alcohol versus drugs, whether they’re illegal drugs or prescription drugs?
Ben: I would say about 70% are alcohol related and 30% are drug related.
Interviewer: So, most of them are alcohol-related charges?
Ben: Yes, alcohol-related charges are more prevalent in this area.
What Drugs Are Attributed to Drug-Related DWI Charges?
Interviewer: In the drug cases, what are you seeing people are arrested for? Is it illegal drugs or prescription drugs?
Ben: It’s a combination of both. A lot of times people are prescribed Xanax or something like that, and they don’t realize they took too much by accident.
Marijuana Is Commonly Attributed to Drug-Related DWI Charges
Interviewer: What about the illegal drugs? Which ones are the most common that you see involved in DWIs?
Ben: The most common one is marijuana just because they can smell it, so they pull you over, they smell it in the car, and they charge you with DWI. This is even though you might not have smoked for a long time, you are charged just because they smell it in the car. That’s the most common one. The other illegal drugs are harder to detect. It’s hard to determine what you’re on, if anything. They don’t have a breathalyzer for those kinds of drugs.
On Long Island, the Police Rarely Take Blood Samples from Suspected Drunk Drivers
Interviewer: How often do the police use blood tests versus a breath test?
Ben: Blood tests are not requested that often.
The Police Are Required to Procure a Warrant to Draw Your Blood
Interviewer: Why do you think that is?
Ben: Unless you consent to it, they need to usually apply for a warrant to get your blood. It’s hard and it’s more of a process. The other test they could ask you to do is a urine test for drugs, but just because you test positive for a drug doesn’t mean you were impaired at the time they pulled you over. This makes it harder to use that as evidence at a trial.
A Urinalysis Does Not Establish Impairment; It Only Confirms the Presence of Drugs in the System
When you blow into a breathalyzer, you know you’re drunk at that time. Having the presence of drugs in the system means the person who is being tested could have taken the drug two days before. The presence is still going to show up in your urine.
How Defensible Are Drug-Related DWI Cases?
Interviewer: Are the drug-related DWI cases harder to defend?
Ben: The drug cases are easier to defend, definitely.