Any thoughts on House Bill 374 by Reg. Solomons. It would amend Penal Code 49.01(2) by adding subsection (C): "or having one of the following controlled substances in the body above the specified concentration per milliter of urine as shown by an enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique screening test: (i) for an amphetetamine, 1,000 nanograms;(ii) for a cannabinoid, 50 nanograms; (iii) for cocaine, 300 nanograms; (iv) for an opiate, 2,000 nanograms; or (v) for phencyclidine, 25 nanograms."
FYI, the enzyme multiplied immunoassay technique screen test is just that--a screening test and reputedly does not accurately give the exact levels. Also, urine can be deceptive because concentrated urine will show higher amounts than dilute urine (individual drank a lot of liquid) will.
Do we expect officers to have little cups on the side of the road?
I'm sure the good representative didn't come up with this on his own -- I wonder who suggested it to him?
This definition obviously has problems that need to be worked out but aren't we on the the right track here. Do we all agree that a defined level of controlled substances as a per se intoxicant is a good thing? I know this is always an issue in DWI and manslaughter cases involving drugs because the experts often disagree as to the effect of a particular amount of controlled substances on the normal use of mental and physical faculties. Phillip, I don't think getting a urine sample is any real problem. We do it daily in the probation department. The sample can be obtained at the PD or SO after arrest. Maybe we should work with the author here to improve the language. What do ya'll think?
Do we know if there is any research out there on the levels of these drugs in the blood/urine of an offender at which time we can say they are intoxicated? Historically, the research on alcohol levels was what led to the per se intoxication definitions. I'm not sure we would have the same scientific basis for our moral high ground without the research to back it up. Frankly, I would love to have some kind of clear cut answer on this issue. However, I don't think we can just pull numbers out of a hat.
Having dealt with a couple of these cases where all we had was a urine sample with a metabolite in the urine, I did some extinsive visiting with Dr. Lasater who runs the Accu-chem lab in Richardson and has tesified many times for the State on the effects of such drugs on the body. While I don't want to put words in his mouth, if memory serves, a metabolite result in the urine is very difficult to extrapolate to the time of use or imparement at the time of driving and even though there may be metabolite in the urine at the time of driving, it would be difficult to testify with certianty that it had an effect on the abilities of the suspect. However, if a blood sample was obtained with any amount of the substances listed above then you have something. Further, I believe he told me that any amount of the substances listed, found in the blood at the time of driving, would have an effect on the suspect, making testifying to those effects(even those that might be difficlut to observe visually) much easier.
With the increase we have seen in DWI with the DRE, I now require the officers to obtain blood as opposed to urine so my expert witness can testify.
That is a long expaination of my point....there are folks out there that could provide some insight into the questions raised.
Lastly, not long ago I read a proposal that was tied to federal highway funds that contemplated the very progam mentioned here being mandated in all 50 states and I think the standards were based on unire samples with the #s set out above as a guideline. Maybe that is why the bill was introduced. In my mind, if you are operating a motor vehicle with any illegal substance in the blood, something needs to happen.
Will we be able to offer deferred on those?
[This message was edited by mhartman on 01-19-05 at .]
I incorrectly spelled the name of the Forensic Chemist. It is John L. Laseter Ph.D. (accuchem.com)
Irreverence, irrelevance?, with regards to peeing on the side of the road aside, I'd like to see any definition of substance within the person to include a blood concentration value more than a urine concentration value.
As has been pointed out above, the presence of a metabolite of a controlled substance in the urine of a defendant is not conclusive that the defendant was under the influence of said substance at a definable time frame.
Substance / Avg duration / Avg. detection
LSD / 8-12 hours / 8 hours
PCP / several days / 2-8 days
Ketamine / 1-2 hours / 9-14 days
Methamphetamine / 2-4 hours / 1-2 days
Cocaine / 1-2 hours / 1-4 days
Marihuana / 2-4 hours / 1 day-5 weeks
With this sort of variance between detectable quatities of metabolites and the duration of effects, it will be quite difficult to establish that the presence of a quantity of a metabolized substance in the urine does in point of fact establish a related back time when the subject was under the influence of said substance.
Also, the quantity of metabolite in the urine is directly related to the quantity of substance consumed, not necessarily related to the time when the substance was consumed and active in the bloodstream.
This concept of urine testing is a retrograde extrapolation nightmare.
That being said, I think it's a neat idea to try and get some sort of defined 'you're intoxicated' definition. Using urine doesn't seem practical or useful.
If every county had a workable and expedient system for blood draws on search warrant requests, we'd eliminate the need for other methods of detection. If the officers have the ability to establish probable cause and provide that information timely to a proper authority who can give permission to stab and bleed the defendant, I don't see a need for this legislation.
It seems to me that a better idea would be to criminalize operating a motor vehicle with any detectable quantity of any illegal drug or metabolite thereof in a person's body. We do that for alcohol with under-aged drivers. Why not do it for everyone when it comes to illegal drugs?
I see now that mhartman already suggested this idea above.
There are no thoroughly documented studies (if any at all) that correlate impairment to the amount of these substances in the body. Part of the problem is the ethics of dosing people up on these drugs for testing purposes. Alcohol is legal while these substances are generally not legal.
Personally, it seems logical to ban people who have ingested illegal substances from driving; therefore, a total ban on driving for these individuals may make more sense? Interesting idea.
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