Narcotic Painkillers is one of seven categories of drugs that Drug Recognition Experts look for in a driving under the influence evaluation.
This article discusses the effects and signs from use of narcotic painkillers drugs (called narcotic analgesics by DREs).
The narcotic painkiller drugs include heroin, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.
Drug Recognition Experts are officers trained to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) looks for signs of drug use and impairment and then makes a guess about which type of drug a person may have used.
The DREs have divided commonly used drugs into seven categories, one of which is narcotic painkillers. Each category of drugs produces different side effects and signs of use. The DRE will ask a driver to perform a series of tests, and then performs an evaluation of the driver.
The results of the test are used by the DRE to guess which type of drug a driver used (if they don’t already know from admissions or a search).
What Behaviors of Clues Indicate Narcotics Use?
- Low raspy voice
- Track marks
- Droopy eyes
- Facial Itching
- “On the nod”
- Depressed reflexes
- Fresh puncture marks
- Dry Mouth
What are the Signs of Narcotic Use?
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – None
Vertical Gaze Nystagmus – None
Lack of Convergence – None
Pupil Size – Constricted
Reaction to Light – Little or none visible
Pulse Rate – Down
Blood Pressure – Down
Body Temperature – Down
Muscle Tone – Flaccid
Signs of overdose – Clammy skin, convulsions, coma, slow and shallow breathing
Time of Drug Effects
- Heroin: 4 – 6 hours
- Methadone: Up to 24 hours
- Others may vary
Driving Under the Influence of Narcotics
The charge resulting from a DUI with narcotic painkillers depends on which particular drug a person allegedly used. For example, heroin is a schedule I substance. A person may be guilty of Operating With the Presence of a Schedule I Controlled Substance for having any heroin in the system while driving. However, drugs such as morphine and fentanyl are schedule II substances. A person must be significantly effected by these drugs to be guilty of Operating While Intoxicated.
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