Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

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Client Guilty of Driving under the Influence of Drugs? Only if the State Can Prove It



The officer was told that my client was weaving all over the road and had struck a curb. The officer found my client and his front tire was flat and he was driving along on the rim. The officer stopped my client. He claimed that he smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and that my client had very poor coordination. He arrested my client for drunk driving.

At the police station my client took the breath test which registered 0.0 (no evidence of alcohol). At that point the officer concluded that my client must be under the influence of drugs and summoned the drug recognition expert and also took blood from my client to test for the presence of drugs. The drug recognition expert concluded that my client was indeed under the influence of drugs.

The burden is always on the state to not only produce the evidence necessary to convict, but also to produce evidence which must persuade the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. On the first trial date the state failed to have their evidence all together. Ironically, the prosecutor told me that he had all of his witnesses and what did my client want to do. I consulted with my client. I told the prosecutor we were ready for trial. At that point the prosecutor told me that they did not have the results of the blood test and could not go forward. I thought that to be somewhat dishonest of the prosecutor and the case was called and postponed. I did ask that the judge not grant the prosecution any further in court continuances and the judge agreed.

After this trial date I requested that my client provide me with his medical records which demonstrated that he had significant back and neck injuries. With this evidence I believed I could argue to the trier of fact that it was not drugs that caused his impairment but significant injuries.

On the second court date the prosecution did not have the drug recognition expert. Again the prosecution asked for a postponement and the judge denied this based on the earlier judge's ruling (which I had requested). The prosecution realized that they had a problem with their case and we were able to work out this very serious case down to a negligent driving disposition. My client received one point and a minimal fine.
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