How Michigan Police Arrest Drugged Drivers

Everyone is familiar with drunk driving. The old slogan, “drive sober or get pulled over,” is burned into our brains to remind us about the consequences of drinking and driving. Assumably, most people know that the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle is .08. Through this, officers are skilled in identifying drunk drivers. However, in recent years, society and laws have changed.

As of late 2018, adult-use marijuana is legal in Michigan. Similarly, doctors are prescribing record numbers of controlled substances for pain and anxiety. You can probably tell when you’ve had too much to drink. However, do you know when you’re impaired by marijuana or other controlled substances? In the state of Michigan, drugged driving is becoming the new trend.

Police departments in Michigan invest in drugged driving training

In recent years, police departments have spent thousands of dollars training their officers to detect drivers who may be “drugged driving”. This task is incredibly difficult to accomplish, mostly because science has not caught up with complexities of drugged driving. Unfortunately, this has not stopped police departments from using junk science to arrest and convict drivers.

WDIV-Channel 4 recently posted an article about an increase in the number of drugged driving arrests made by officers in Washtenaw County. The article states that the increase could be linked to the extensive training provided to officers. One of these programs, the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), is credited for improved detection of drugged drivers.

Does the ARIDE program help to catch drugged drivers?

Simply, ARIDE offers additional classes for officers that are similar to those taught in the police academy. All officers are taught the standard field sobriety tests prior to graduating from the academy. However, these additional ARIDE classes are not part of that curriculum. The purpose of ARIDE is to teach officers about the effects of drugs, which may be shown through an individual’s driving or personal contact with the driver.

Officers are taught the drug’s physiological effects on the body such as pupil size, speech patterns and body movement. Additionally, officers are taught some additional field sobriety tests. Supposedly, these are decent indicators of impairment.

However, this program has numerous issues:
  • Officers forget what they are taught and rely on old myths instead of science. For example, I’ve heard numerous times that marijuana use results in a green tongue, which is scientifically untrue.

  • Tests are sometimes improperly administered. These tests should be performed in substantial compliance with how they are taught. Failure to do so renders the tests meaningless.

  • Officers enter false information into police reports to make their case look stronger. Perhaps the person just isn’t impaired, but they don’t want to be proven wrong.

  • The science behind ARIDE tests is not proven. Therefore, some “clues” provided by these tests hold zero value towards guilt or innocence.

How do I fight my drugged driving charge?

Honestly, this isn’t anything to scoff at. Currently, officers are essentially given a free pass to report what they want about an incident. Even worse, some defense attorneys blindly accept these facts as true. After all, why would an ARIDE trained officer lie or make something up, right?

Unfortunately, too few attorneys have taken the time to learn this new area of OWI law. Our team takes the time to attend numerous ARIDE seminars to learn just what the police are being taught. Most importantly, we have fought these cases and won. Once a prosecutor sees that we’re willing to fight the officer’s statements and allegations, favorable plea deals and dismissals are typically awarded.  

Don’t trust your OWI charge, whether drugs or alcohol, to someone who simply dabbles in this area of law. As you can see, the police actively train and learn new techniques everyday. You should expect that your lawyer is learning and training just as hard. Choose an attorney who is ready to fight these fallacies and hold officers responsible to properly conduct their job.
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