Menu Call Contact

How Can the Police Tell if Someone Is Driving While High?

How Can the Police Tell if Someone Is Driving While High

Drug abuse is no laughing matter, and that’s particularly the case in The Volunteer State.

In Tennessee, driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. The state’s zero-tolerance laws enforce stiff penalties even for first-time offenders. Although some surrounding states have recently legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana use, Tennessee has yet to follow in trend. So if you’re arrested for driving under the influence of illicit drugs, you will be charged accordingly. But how can a police officer tell if you’re driving high? Even though there is no breath test for drugged driving, there are various ways a police officer can detect an impaired driver. Continue reading this article to learn more about how police officers can tell if someone is driving while high.

Ways a Police Officer Can Detect Impaired Driving

A police officer can pull you over for various reasons. For example, an officer might pull you over if you are speeding or driving recklessly. Driving while high can cause you to swerve in and out of lanes or to follow other vehicles too closely. A police officer does not necessarily have to suspect you of driving while high to pull you over. However, once they do pull you over, there are many ways they can detect drugged driving, like the following.

Physical Evidence

As police officers approach your vehicle, they might notice physical evidence of marijuana or other drugs. They might smell the drug or see smoke coming from your car. There are also many physical signs marijuana users may have, including bloodshot eyes, impaired coordination, or reduced reaction time. If a police officer believes you are driving while high, they can ask you for testing.

Chemical Tests

While breath tests cannot determine whether or not you are high, blood and urine tests can. A police officer can take you in to order a blood or urine test if they think you are driving while high. Although these tests can detect THC levels, they can be inaccurate. Another common defense against chemical tests is that THC can stay in your system for weeks, so your test could detect marijuana in your system even if you were not currently high while driving.

Drug Recognition Experts

The police can request a drug recognition expert (DRE) to determine whether or not you are high. A DRE uses specific tools and tests to look for signs showing you were under drugs’ influence. For example, they may test your coordination, reaction time, or eye movement control. The results of these evaluations can be used against you in court.

Dräger DrugTest 5000

While there are no breath tests for marijuana or other drugs, some police stations have the Dräger DrugTest 5000, which can test for:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Methamphetamine
  • Methadone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamine

These tests can detect substances in your system but cannot determine how much is in your system.

What Are the Penalties for Driving While High in Tennessee?

Tennessee law prohibits drunk driving or driving while high. Doing so can result in a DUI charge. The consequences of a DUI charge depend on the severity of the crime or if you have prior DUI convictions.

The penalties are as follows:

  • First DUI: punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a $1,500 fine
  • Second DUI: punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a $3,500 fine
  • Third DUI: punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and/or a $10,000 fine
  • Fourth or subsequent DUI: Class E felony punishable by up to six years in prison and/or a $15,000 fine

Other consequences for a DUI conviction include license revocation, drug, and alcohol treatment, or an ignition interlock device (IID) requirement.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney

Driving while high is illegal in Tennessee, it is extremely dangerous, often leading to motor vehicle crashes, that can enhance your charges.

Regardless of how great you think your driving skills are, you should never get behind the wheel if you have drugs in your system. A conviction just isn’t worth it. While there is no breath test to detect drugged driving, there are several ways a police officer can tell whether or not you were driving while under the influence. However, it is also important to realize that not all drug tests are accurate or reliable. So, there are many defenses for driving while high. To get help with your case, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. An attorney will defend you against the charges and protect your rights and freedoms.

Contact Pickford Law Today

At Pickford Law, we believe in protecting our client’s rights and defending them. We offer personalized service, fast communication, and same-day representation to achieve your desired case outcome. If you or someone you know has been charged or arrested for driving while under the influence in Tennessee, contact a criminal defense lawyer from Pickford Law today to schedule your free consultation.

Author Bio

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford is a highly skilled attorney and the founder of Pickford Law. Her legal practice is committed to representing clients on various legal matters, including social security disability, veterans’ disability, estate planning, and personal injury. With over ten years of experience in law and a license to practice in Tennessee and Arkansas, Shalondra is committed to providing personalized and effective legal representation to each client.

Shalondra received her Juris Doctorate from The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and is a member of the Tennessee and Arkansas State Bar Associations. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the exclusive Rising Stars award from Super Lawyers in 2017 and again in 2022.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google