DWI Drug Testing in Fort Worth
In the initial counter following the suspicion of a drug DWI, the officer may observe signs that he or she believes is evidence of intoxication by alcohol, or by drugs, and that may be dilated pupils. There may be physical signs like the way the person talks, or the way the person is moving, or any type of difficulty when trying to show the officer their driver’s license, or fumbling, and confusion. After that, the officer may observe the person see if there are any signs that the officer thinks indicates the use of drugs. Sometimes, they will claim that a person who has ingested marijuana may have a different color on their tongue. Sometimes, they believe that the degree of redness of the eyes may indicate intoxication by alcohol, marijuana, or other substances.
They may look for anything on the person’s skin, or arms to indicate if they can find needle marks or anything like that. Then beyond that, they are going to be looking in the car to see if they can see anything, or using their sense of smell. It is funny how often they claim they smell marijuana. Police believe that if they have an encounter with someone, and they smell marijuana that gives them probable cause to search the car. Frequently, we find that officers claim they smelled marijuana when they actually cannot. There still may be a challenge to the search of a car without consent, based on the officer’s claim that they smelled something.
Beyond that, they are going to be using that standard field sobriety tests to see if they have any evidence of intoxication, then the next step would be issuing a blood test. Now, there is one thing that they can use in investigations of DWI, where it is suspected that the person is intoxicated by drugs, controlled substances, or medicines, other than alcohol, and that is, they sometimes use what is called drug recognition experts. Some officers go through training for DRE, or Drug Recognition Expert training, which gives them a standard investigation tool that is supposed to indicate whether a person is under the influence of any drugs.
We find that frequently their training is lacking, and they do not properly execute the standard testing that is used for drug recognition experts. Nevertheless, even with that type of investigation, they frequently make mistakes. They really do not have strong evidence of intoxication by something other than alcohol without a blood test.
Field Sobriety Testing in DWID Cases
The standard field sobriety testing consists of three tests. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the Walk, Turn, and the One Leg Stand test, there are other tests an officer may administer as well. Some officers are trained to administer tests, such as reciting a portion of the alphabet, and not necessarily from A to Z, but from a given letter like from D to T to see if, the person can quickly recite that portion of the alphabet. The officer may have a person count backward from one given number to another, again to see if they are able to recite the correct sequence, start at the right spot, and end correctly. The officer sometimes does other tests such as the finger touch.
The old test that used to be commonly associated with a DWI investigation, but is not used very often anymore, but still gets used occasionally is the Nose Touch where a person is requested to tilt their head back, hold their arms out, close their eyes, and touch their nose with the tip of their finger. The officer is checking to see if they used the correct hand and if they can actually touch the nose. However, these tests are not standardized, that is, they have not been shown by any studies to equate to intoxication, or that any certain score or performance on these tests actually indicates that a person is intoxicated.
The scientific community does not favor these tests to show any evidence of intoxication, but officers still use them. In the past, law enforcement liked to do the nose touch, because by putting the person in that position with their head tilted back, standing with their feet together, their eyes closed would cause any person to sway, because that interferes with your normal balance faculties. Therefore, that is unfair actually. Nevertheless, when the officers use these tests, if they try to use this as evidence of intoxication, we can show through articles, and experts, and with the cross-examination of the state’s experts, these are not standardized tests, and they have never been shown to provide evidence that a person is actually intoxicated.