New tool coming to fight drugged driving?

California considering bill which would help officers investigate drugged driving suspects.

California motorists know all about the state's DUI laws. They know that if they are suspected of drunk driving, law enforcement officers may potentially order them to submit to a blood or breath test in order to determine if they are over the 0.08 percent legal limit. Those who fail to submit to these tests will see their licenses immediately suspended.

While this has helped police address motorists under the influence of alcohol, there have been a growing number of individuals who get behind the wheel after taking controlled substances. It is much more difficult for law enforcement to know when these motorists are "over the limit," as each drug has different effects and different symptoms of impairment.

Recently, there has been a bill introduced in the assembly that may make it easier for police to determine if a motorist has illegal drugs in his or her system. The proposal would allow officers to use a swab to check a motorist's saliva for drugs. If the motorist tests positive, he or she could potentially be arrested for drunk driving.

There have been some concerns raised about the possible use of these devices to support DUI charges. The swabs that would be used have a 90 percent accuracy rate, so there is still a lot of potential room for error. These devices would still not measure actual impairment, but rather if a person has actually used drugs before driving. The swabs would be used as screening tools only. This means that they would not be the sole support for DUI charges, but would simply be another resource that officers could use to further their investigations.

When drugged driving is suspected, police have a large amount of discretion after a stop is made. Officers who have special training spotting drugged drivers are often present at the scene. If they see any possible signs of impairment, they are allowed to continue with the investigation. Ultimately, the officers decide whether or not the person should be subject to a test that would reveal if any illegal substances are present in the motorist's system. This makes it extremely difficult for the motorists to present a defense to these accusations.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, you need to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to begin building your defense. Your attorney will be able to help you pursue a deal that may allow you to keep your license, or protect your rights inside the courtroom. If you fail to take these cases seriously, you could find yourself facing significant jail time.