Physical signs and symptoms of marijuana use
Driving under the influence of marijuana is not as easily detectable as driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol consumption, in quantities large enough to cause impairment, produces obvious physical signs and symptoms in an individual, whereas marijuana use isn’t quite as recognizable. There are, however, certain physical characteristics that are associated with marijuana use that a trained officer may look for when conducting this type of investigation. Hiring a skilled California DUI attorney who knows how to effectively challenge this type of physical evidence is the best defense that the accused can employ.
Red eyes, the odor of marijuana on one’s person or emanating from one’s breath, an increased appetite and dry mouth are among the most common physical symptoms of marijuana use. Anyone familiar with the effects of marijuana may recognize these signs when trying to determine if another has been smoking or otherwise using this drug. In addition to these, there are other physical signs and symptoms that an officer will look for if he or she suspects that a driver may be under the influence of marijuana. If the officer has been qualified as a drug recognition expert (a.k.a. a DRE), he or she will look for more specific signs that may go unnoticed by an individual who hasn’t received training on the effects that marijuana has on one’s body.
In addition to those symptoms noted above, an individual who has used marijuana may also noticeably display debris of marijuana in his or her mouth, body tremors and eyelid tremors. He or she may appear to be relaxed (or in some cases just the opposite – paranoid and/or anxious), less inhibited, disoriented and/or may suffer from a lapse in short term memory and have difficulty judging time and distance.
If called to the scene, a DRE will ask a series of questions (designed to elicit incriminating statements) conduct a series of tests (some will be field sobriety tests – FSTs- that the investigating officer already conducted) and will make certain observations about the driver’s body. The DRE officer will observe the suspect’s eyes, checking for pupil size (use usually produces dilation) and horizontal gaze nystagmus and vertical nystagmus, neither of which should be present if marijuana was used. He or she will measure the suspect’s blood pressure and pulse, both of which would likely be elevated if the accused used marijuana. The officer will also look at the driver’s muscle tone, which would appear normal even if marijuana had been used.
Balance and coordination are also analyzed by the officer while the accused performs the field sobriety tests. When evaluating these “tests,” the officer is looking for anything indicative of use, which might be slower reaction time and a difficulty following directions. The attitude of the suspect is also closely examined.
Physical signs and symptoms of marijuana use are plentiful, but not always accurate. An experienced criminal defense lawyer who specializes in driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) knows that there are always conditions unrelated to drugs or alcohol that can legitimately explain the signs and symptoms that an officer may observe and link to impairment. Illness, fatigue, allergies and nerves can all affect one’s physical appearance and one’s balance and coordination. A good defense attorney will try to convince the judge and jury that the officer conducted a biased investigation, only gathering evidence that pointed to the driver’s guilt, dismissing any evidence that pointed to his or her innocence. In addition, a practiced attorney knows that the issue isn’t whether the accused used marijuana, but whether he or she was under its influence. It is the in-depth knowledge about these types of defenses and strategies that necessitates an attorney who focuses on California D.U.I. defense. The outstanding attorneys at The Kavinoky Law Firm do just that and have the results to prove it. They are dedicated to protecting their clients from the devastating penalties that are often imposed in connection with driving under the influence. Contact them today for a free consultation and for unsurpassed representation.