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March

Field Sobriety Tests Now Allowed for Suspected Drugged Drivers in Michigan

By Jeffrey M. Salassa

man completing field sobriety tests from the perspective of a Clinton Township DUI lawyer

Have you ever been pulled over because an officer suspected that you were driving under the influence? If so, then you might have been asked to perform a field sobriety test. These tests are one of the most common tactics utilized by law enforcement officers, not only in Macomb County, but throughout the country, to help determine if a person has been drinking alcohol. While these tests are not fool proof, they do generally provide officers with a relatively accurate measure of someone’s sobriety.

For the most part, field sobriety tests are used when officers believe someone has been consuming alcohol in excess of the legal limit prior to driving. However, driving under the influence, or operating while intoxicated, as it is known in Michigan, is not limited to being under the influence of alcohol, as it is also against the law for drivers to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any kind of drug that could impair their judgment, including illegal drugs, as well as prescription medication.

With that in mind, a new law has been enacted in the state of Michigan regarding field sobriety tests. According to the new law, drivers can now be treated the same for “drugged” driving as they can for drunk driving. In the past, officers could not use field sobriety tests on those whom they believed were driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription medication. Now, that has changed as officers can ask drivers to perform these tests if they suspect the driver has been using drugs.

Officers claim that they have noticed an uptick in drivers who are operating under the influence of marijuana, as well as drivers who are using or abusing prescription medication. However, because there is no “breath-test” available to detect drug use, field sobriety tests will provide officers with a new “weapon” to help fight against “drugged” driving. Accordingly, officials are now training officers to better identify drivers who may be under the influence of drugs and, if a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, he or she will be taken to jail in order to “sober up”.

Although this new law could help deter some drivers from operating under the influence, it could also affect those who unknowingly get behind the wheel when they are impaired, as many people underestimate the strength and power of their prescription medications and they can make mistakes relative to dosage and/or timing.

If you have been pulled over in Macomb County for OWI/DWI then you should seek the help of a knowledgeable defense attorney. Contact Iafrate &Salassa, P.C. immediately if you have been arrested for OWI at 586-263-1600 or simply click here.

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