JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Driving under the influence isn’t exclusive to alcohol. Mississippi’s DUI laws allows someone on drugs to get hit with the same charges and penalties.
A DUI for something other than alcohol presents different challenges.
“You can really only do alcohol through machine tests right now on the side of the road. We don’t have a portable breathalyzer for marijuana or for narcotic painkillers," said Defense Attorney Matt Eichelberger. "Those just don’t exist yet. The science is not there.”
Eichelberger says that’s why DUI other cases are more difficult for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Blood tests are not exceedingly common in a misdemeanor DUI," noted Eichelberger. "Often, what you’ll see is an officer present his case to a judge based upon his observations, usually the smell of marijuana, a pill bottle containing narcotics, something along those lines. Some sort of other evidence besides just his observations but nothing as concrete as a blood test.”
While there is a legal limit for driving with alcohol in your system, there’s a zero tolerance policy as it relates to drugs. As for the penalties, they’re the same as if you were drinking; including the option to have the first offense non-adjudicated.
“However with drug DUIs, DUI other, often times there’s repeat drug testing instead of breath testing," said Eichelberger. "It wouldn’t make any sense if someone was given DUI for marijuana, to not test them for marijuana to make sure they were staying clean and only test them for alcohol.”
But cases like this one, that involved a death, did end up with a warrant for a blood sample.
That’s when Flowood police discovered the presence of THC in the driver’s system. She’s now charged with DUI Mayhem Causing Death.
Eichelberger says blood tests are common in felony cases involving injury or death.