Question: Can you explain drugged driving in Maryland?
Answer: Well, drugged driving in Maryland, you don’t see it nearly as much as DUI. When the police officers pull you over for what they perceive to be some sort of a DUI charge and they don’t necessarily smell alcohol on your breath, but if you had red, glassy eyes or if you were slurring your speech or if you were swerving all over the street while he was following behind you, he’s going to assume that there was something wrong with you. And it becomes a little bit more challenging for them to prove this particular charge, but if a defendant were to give them a good basis for it—i.e. one’s speech was in fact significantly slurred, or if they just could not hold their lane at all—the officer will look for other things that may have impacted somebody’s coordination.
Oftentimes under that circumstance that can be drugs, whether it be illicit drugs or even prescribed drugs; if somebody has Xanax or Valium, as an example, or if somebody consumed marijuana or any other number of drugs. Sometimes with marijuana, for example, the officer may smell that on a person. Or, if a person had taken legal prescription drugs—maybe they took Valium or Xanax or maybe they even took a sleeping aid of some kind—these types of things can impair you. And if they do impair you and you operated your car, that would be drugged driving and they, the police, would in fact charge you with that offense, and that offense is equally as serious as any of these other offenses.
Now, it becomes a little bit more challenging for them to prove, because they’re going to have to bring in a DRE or a drug recognition expert, to try to prove their case. And this is sort of even more horse manure than these field sobriety tests, because they’re going to ask you questions, such as, “What did you consume tonight? What medications did you consume?” Answering the questions of a DRE is always a bad idea because they just basically take what you give them and they regurgitate that in the reports and they use your own words to convict you of these charges. So, if they’re going to call in a DRE or have a DRE talk to you, it’s absolutely wise to exercise your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself, or just refuse to answer any questions and let it go from there.