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Michigan Police Cracking Down on Drugged Drivers

Michigan criminal defense attorneyDrivers who are arrested for impaired driving need to know what to do after an OWI arrest. Most drivers who face charges are accused of operating while impaired by alcohol, as drunk driving has long been the leading cause of OWI arrests. These drivers facing OWI charges will need to try to undermine evidence showing their blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit of .08 and/or showing they were not too impaired by alcohol to drive.

Recently, however, there have been many motorists arrested not for being drunk behind the wheel, but for being drugged behind the wheel. This is because police throughout Michigan are reportedly cracking down on drugged drivers.

Click on Detroit reported on efforts which are ongoing in Washtenaw County aimed at stopping motorists who may have used drugs before getting behind the wheel.  Drugged driving cases can often be more complicated because setting clear limits for drugs in the system is much more difficult than setting clear limits for BAC testing. Further, drugs can often stay in your system for a long time after they are used, so this too complicates the process of proving cases for prosecutors and the process of raising defenses for those accused of wrongdoing.

Crackdown on Drugged Drivers Necessitates Strong Defense Strategy

According to the reports from Click On Detroit, sheriff's deputies throughout Michigan have long been focused on looking for drunk drivers on state highways. However, these deputies have now been joined by specially trained deputies whose focus is on OWI involving drugs rather than alcohol. Deputy Brian Webb stated the addition of these specially trained deputies to the patrolling force was prompted by the fact "there's been an increase over the years in drugged driving." The new deputies are "drug recognition experts," who are educated in the signs to look for which could suggest someone has used drugs before getting behind the wheel.

The sheriff's office is trying to portray its efforts at targeting drugged drivers as a positive measure aimed at saving lives.  The news reported on a story, for example, where police detained a man for not having a license and the man passed out because he was overdosing on opiates. The sheriff's office administered naloxone to stop the overdose. Reportedly, deputies have saved 19 lives since they began administering naloxone.

While police efforts to save lives are a good thing, the problem comes when patrolling task forces end up violating the rights of people who have an expectation of privacy. You should not have your vehicle stopped unless you've broken traffic laws or unless there is probable cause to suspect you are breaking other laws like regulations on impaired driving. You also should not be subject to any toxicology tests for drugs or alcohol without probable cause. After an OWI arrest, you need to have an attorney review the facts and circumstances of your traffic stop and the evidence against you to ensure the patrolling deputies did not violate your constitutional privileges or act improperly in stopping or searching you.

Commenting on the Clink On Detroit article, attorney Susan Longsworth said that while drugged driving is against the law, it's important for those arrested for an OUI to be aware of their legal rights.

"It's wonderful that police have the tools to keep the community safe and help those suffering from an overdose. No driver should ever get behind the wheel under the influence of drugs, but if you find yourself in that situation, we're ready to help," said Longsworth.

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