Measuring Impairment in Drugged Driving vs Drunk Driving
Everyone knows that DWI laws make it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There’s a very clear line for measuring how much alcohol drivers are permitted to have in their system before they are deemed legally intoxicated, 0.08 percent. Something that would surprise many people in Missouri is that, in the state, you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) if your driving is impaired, regardless of the amount of drugs found in your system at the time of your arrest. No such clear line exists.
According to Section 577.010 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, a driver is considered guilty of driving while intoxicated if he or she drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for a DWI for alcohol is 0.08, but for drugs, no specific limit exists. Instead, any amount of drugs that impairs your driving is enough for a DUID conviction.
Missouri Drugged Driving Penalties
The potential penalties for a DUID conviction are exactly the same as they are for a standard DWI in Missouri. The law says that those convicted of either crime are eligible for up to six months in prison and can be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500. Both crimes also involve the loss of driving privileges. Interestingly if you enter a plea of guilty to driving under the influence of drugs you most likely will lose your license for one year under Missouri Abuse and Lose Law.
What’s so maddening about the Missouri law is that it is so arbitrary, making no attempt to define what actually is dangerous, impaired driving. It’s possible that in Missouri a driver may have smoked marijuana a week before being pulled over and had a couple of beers but be under the legal limit of 0.08, but under this law he can be charged for DWI because he will likely test positive for the metabolite of THC (this is what THC becomes as it is broken down in the body). The same thing goes with other drugs as labs in the state are designed to detect drug metabolites, not the drugs themselves. Prosecutors typically don’t take the time or have the knowledge to properly interpret the lab results properly. Typically if a person is charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs they will need to hire a toxicologist or other experts to help in their defense.
The only good thing to say about the law is that it has one caveat that prevents it from being applied too broadly by police officers. Officers in Missouri still have to have probable cause to believe that a driver was operating a vehicle under the influence before they can ask you to take a test to determine your level of intoxication.
Contact our St. Louis Drunk Driving Lawyers today!
If you’ve had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri DWI defense lawyer capable of aggressively protecting your interests, contact our St. Louis DWI law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: “Missouri Drugged Driving,” published at NORML.org.