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Looking at Maryland’s drugged driving law, P.1

In our last post, we mentioned a conference held for law enforcement last month in Ocean City which dealt with issues related to impaired driving, especially drug impaired driving. We also spoke of the potential for error in drugged driving investigations.

When a defendant is accused of driving under the influence of drugs, it is important to work with an attorney to examine the police investigation to ensure everything was done correctly and that prosecutors have adequate evidence to support the charges. When police haven’t acted properly or when there is inadequate evidence for drugged driving, available protections need to be taken advantage of and weak points in the case need to be highlighted. 

Here in Maryland, driving under the influence of drugs is deemed to have occurred when the motorist’s use of controlled substances renders him or her incapable of driving safely. In order to satisfactorily prove driving under the influence of drugs, then, a prosecutor must be able to link the ingestion of controlled substances to the driver’s incapacity to safely operate the vehicle he or she was driving.

Inability to safely operate a motor vehicle might be proven by a variety of factors, but it is important to scrutinize whether there are other potential explanations for what prosecutors allege is incapacity. In addition, it is important to explore possible defenses, particularly in situations where the motorist was unaware that the drug would result in his or her inability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or where the motorist was entitled under the law to use the controlled substance, as would be the case with a prescription medication.

We’ll continue looking at some other aspects of Maryland’s drugged driving law in our next post.

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