According to a recent news article for Alabama Live, a man was arrested in Shelby County for DUI and possession of a controlled substance following a police chase. Authorities say sheriff’s deputies allegedly saw defendant swerving across marked lanes of traffic and attempted to pull him over for a moving violation.
At this point, defendant allegedly failed to stop for the deputies and led them on a “relatively low speed” chase on State Highway 119 through Motevallo, Alabama and eventually into the downtown area, where additional officers arrived to assist with the pursuit of the suspect. After about 30 minutes of allegedly fleeing from officers, albeit at a slow speed, defendant is said to have stopped his car in the downtown area and was apprehended by law enforcement.
Once the deputies got suspect out of his car, they suspected he was under the influence of liquor or drugs and placed him under arrest for DUI, attempting to elude law enforcement and reckless endangerment. He was also charged with possession of a controlled substance when the deputies allegedly found Xanax in the defendant’s possession for which he did not have a valid prescription.
At his initial court hearing, prosecutors alleged defendant crossed the center line and was driving in the lanes of oncoming traffic multiple times. They also alleged defendant was driving on the shoulder of the road and ran a red traffic signal before officers activated their emergency equipment in an attempt to pull him over. Prosecutors also alleged defendant was driving under the influence of both alcohol and a controlled substance, though they did not specify what controlled substance he was alleged to be on. Alprazolam (Xanax) was allegedly in his possession at time of arrest. It should be noted that these are merely accusations, and defendant is presumed innocent unless and until his is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
As our Birmingham DUI defense attorneys can explain, police often accuse people of driving under the influence of drugs without sufficient evidence to substantiate such a charge. Most officers are not trained to detect whether someone is under the influence of drugs. While there are signs that someone is obviously not acting normally that everyone can see, there are a lot of medical reasons and other explanations someone might appear to be under the influence of drugs, even when they are not. This is especially true considering an officer has not seen a suspect prior to being pulled over and has no idea what the suspect normally looks like.
For example, an officer may observe a defendant has glassy, bloodshot or watery eyes and infer in official reports that suspect is under the influence of drugs. However, these observations can be a result of a variety of causes, like contact lenses or allergies. Some people always have watery bloodshot eyes. While some officers do have training as what is known as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), they often do not know as much as they claim, and this can be exposed during cross examination at a DUI trial.
This is why defendants should never admit to intoxication, as this is often more powerful evidence than that presented by the arresting officer(s).