Contact Us for a Free Consultation 702-472-9594

Elements of a Las Vegas DUI - Probable Cause for a Drug DUI

Elements of a Las Vegas DUI - Probable Cause for a Drug DUI

In Las Vegas, it is against the law to drive under the influence of a drug that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle safely. However, drug detection is difficult. Oftentimes, somebody under the influence of drugs will pass the Standardized Field Sobriety Test but still display cues of impairment. Police officers rely on two methods to establish probable cause for a Las Vegas drug DUI arrest: ARIDE - Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement - and DRE - Drug Recognition Expert. These methods are utilized after the standard DUI probable cause assessment. Thus, they come into play once all of the SFSTs are completed.

Before we can speak about ARIDE and DRE, we will look at the foundations of both tests. They are based on the same science, as ARIDE is simply a DRE lite. 

Foundations of ARIDE and DRE

The foundations of ARIDE and DRE are based on a non-controversial issue: drugs affect the body, and different drugs affect it differently. ARIDE and DRE attempt to isolate those effects to make determinations about impairment. The major focus centers around the eyes and includes observing pupils as well as administering another test. ARIDE and DRE split drugs into seven categories and run their tests, observing how you react. The seven categories of drugs are:

  1. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants include alcohol, Zanax, Prozac, and GHB.
  2. Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants - This includes cocaine, Ritalin, and methamphetamine as examples of the drugs.
  3. Hallucinogens - This category includes drugs such as LSD, Peyote, and MDMA
  4. Disassociative Analgesics - The best examples of this group are PCP and Ketamine.
  5. Narcotic Analgesics - Opium, Morphine, Heroin, Codeine, Demerol, and Methadone are examples.
  6. Inhalants - These are any number of breathable chemicals that are inhaled. Paint, oven cleaner, and these types of drugs fall into this category.
  7. Cannabis - This one is self-explanatory and includes marijuana and all of its derivatives. 

The purpose of ARIDE and DRE analysis is to decide which category of drug you are under the influence of by looking at how these types of drugs affect your body in conjunction with the results of the SFST.

ARIDE for a Las Vegas DUI

ARIDE is considered a bridge to full-on drug analysis. The way it is supposed to work is the officer, after conducting the SFSTs and suspecting drugs, conducts two additional tests. The officer should use those two tests in conjunction with their own analysis to decide on impairment and which type of drug. They are supposed to be able to articulate their own conclusions as to why there is drug impairment. The two additional tests are:

  1. Lack of Convergence - The officer has you follow a stimulus to see if you can cross your eyes. If the eyes do cross, the lack of convergence is not present. If the eyes do not cross, then there is a lack of convergence.
  2. Modified Romberg - Modified Romberg is an attempt to test balance, internal clock, and the presence of eye tremors. You have to stand straight, close your eyes, tip your head back and assess when thirty seconds have passed.

Officers will use these two tests along with their own observations to decide on impairment. An example from DUI Defense Attorney Charles Goodwin:

A common drug officers test for is Marijuana. An officer notices red eyes, and the suspect not responding well to divided attention tasks such as talking while looking for registration and insurance. (talking while retrieving insurance). The officer conducts the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and does not see any Nystagmus. On the Lack of Convergence test, the officer notices it is present. When there is no nystagmus and there is lack of convergence, according to their own training there are signs of marijuana. 

In a perfect world, the next step for determining impairment would be contacting a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to conduct follow-up tests and decide on probable cause for impairment due to drugs. However, that often does not occur. In most cases, these officers will make an arrest based on their observations at this point. 

DRE for a Las Vegas DUI

A DRE testing for impairment is a systematic method for determining impairment based on drug use. We can set aside the problems inherent within the test and instead focus on how a DRE conducts their tests for probable cause in a Las Vegas DUI. The DRE is a twelve-step process. The DRE is generally not the first officer on the scene. They show up after. Here are the twelve steps for the DRE test:

  1. Breath Alcohol Test - A DRE conducts a breath alcohol test to see if their impairment is consistent with alcohol in their system if any.
  2. Interview with Arresting Officer - The DRE speaks with the arresting officer and discusses how the person was acting, their appearance, and how they were driving.
  3. Preliminary Examination and First Pulse - A preliminary examination is done to determine medical issues. The DRE will also ask about what was recently ingested (alcohol, drugs, food, etc.) and their pupil size. The HGN is done again, and the person's pulse is taken for the first of three times.
  4. Eye Examination - The DRE looks for HGN, VGN, and LoC.
  5. Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests - More tests are conducted, including the Modified Romberg Balance test, the Walk and Turn, the One Leg Stand, and the Finger to Nose Test.
  6. Vital Signs and Second Pulse - The person's blood pressure, temperature, and pulse are measured.
  7. Dark Room Examinations - The person's pupils are measured three times in different circumstances by the DRE.
  8. Muscle Tone Examination - The person's muscle tone is measured for rigidness or loose and flaccid.
  9. Check for Injection Sites and Third Pulse - The DRE examines the body for injection sites. The pulse is taken for the final time.
  10. Person's Statements and Other Observations - The DRE will read Miranda and ask them about their drug use.
  11. Analysis and Opinions of the Evaluator - The DRE will look at the results and decide on impairment and what drugs they are.
  12. Toxicological Examination - A chemical test is done to show if there are drugs in the system.

Each step in the DRE process must be completed for the test to produce "reliable" results. Reliable is in quotes because, as is seen from step eleven, there is a lot of subjectivity inherent in this test. Much of it rests on the arresting officer having a deep knowledge of drugs and their effects on the body. This knowledge can be hard to obtain, and often the DRE class is mere hours. Additionally, the test is touted as being used by doctors to make determinations on impairment. However, unlike doctors, police officers have not had years of training in treating people. Yet, because of its systematic method, perceived scientific validation, and inherent authority from police officers, a DRE is often taken as legitimate and can lead to a conviction.

A DUI Lawyer Is Necessary To Beat a DRE Examination

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Las Vegas and either the ARIDE or DRE examinations were used, you need DUI Defense attorney Charles Goodwin. The ARIDE and DRE tests often look convincing, and a lawyer not trained in DUI defense may see them as such. DON'T MAKE THAT MISTAKE! Charles Goodwin is a member of the National College of DUI Defense. He serves on three different national task forces for the College. He has spent countless hours learning the science and the ins and outs of DUI Defense. Don't risk your future! Contact Charles Goodwin today and get a free assessment of your case. 

Call Charles Goodwin at the Goodwin Law Group today at 702 472 9594!

Contact Us Today

The Goodwin Law Group, PLLC is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense law issues in Nevada.

We offer a Free Consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Call us today at 702-472-9594.