While drunk driving arrests have been steadily declining in recent years, the number of arrests due to drugged driving – driving while under the influence of drugs – has been on the rise. Georgia recently introduced a new “drug recognition expert” training, a month-long training in which police officers are taught to recognize signs of drug-related impairment and make arrests based on this assessment.
In the Atlanta area, there have been increasing cases reported of innocent people – including people who had never before used marijuana – who were stopped by police and arrested for showing “indicators” that they had been smoking the drug.
One victim’s story
An Atlanta-area waitress was recently stopped by the Cobb County police and told she exhibited signs of marijuana use. After explaining that she had not used – and does not use – the drug, she submitted to a breathalyzer test, which came back clean. This is where she thought things would end. Instead, she:
- Was arrested
- Took a blood test at the police station, which also came back negative
- Spent the night in jail
- Had her license to serve alcohol revoked
- Spent thousands of dollars in legal fees
Four months later, her charges were finally dropped. However, the arrest will remain on her public record for the rest of her life, which can impact her ability to go to college, rent an apartment or get a job.
What are your legal protections?
There has been growing evidence that drug recognition experts are given freedom to arrest based on hunches – rather than on solid evidence. This could be seen as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
If you believe you have been falsely arrested and unfairly treated by the police, it’s important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your rights and recourse. They can advocate on your behalf – by working to get your charges dropped and seeking justice for your mistreatment.