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Orange County Prepares to focus on Drug Impaired Drivers

The Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Orange County Crime Lab have received grants to expand their capacity to prosecute drug impaired drivers. According to a press release from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Orange County District Attorney's office will be receiving $642,882 to expand Drug DUI enforcement, including a significant number of new Drug Recognition Expert officers, a dedicated prosecutor and investigator, and new equipment for the Orange County Crime Lab. The grant application was originally for 1 million dollars, so it is unknown just how the reduction in expected funds will be allocated. In addition, the Orange County Crime Lab has received a Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant from the National Institute of Justice in the amount of $116,023 which is dedicated to the purchase of a new instrument which can be used to detect not only alcohol, but other volatile chemicals that may be present in a driver's blood, such as inhalants. The Orange County Crime Lab has reported a 137% increase in requests for volatile testing in recent years, but has not had the capacity to test for many substances which can be abused by inhalation.

California law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs, even if the drugs were prescribed. "Under the influence" means that the drugs affect you such that you are not capable of driving with the caution of a sober person. This rather vague definition will be used to determine if it is safe for you to have been driving. Drug Recognition Experts are officers who receive special training in field sobriety tests, vital signs, and other indicators which are supposed help the officer determine whether someone is under the influence of drugs, and also determine into which of seven categories the drugs fall into. There are no specific limits for drug levels that determine when someone is under the influence. These factors make Driving Under the Influence of Drugs cases more complicated, both for the prosecution and for the defense. This is likely the reasoning behind designating the new special prosecutor for DUI Drug cases, so that this prosecutor can receive special training and experience in prosecuting this type of case. If you are being charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, be sure the attorney who is defending you is just as specialized.