Stimulants are 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 of stimulant drug use.
The stimulant drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamines.
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 stimulant drugs. 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 Stimulant Use?
- Increased alertness
- Redness to nasal area
- Runny noise
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Grinding Teeth (bruxism)
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Body tremors
What are the Signs of Stimulant Use?
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – None
Vertical Gaze Nystagmus – None
Lack of Convergence – None
Pupil Size – Dilated
Reaction to Light – Normal (some psychedelic amphetamines may cause slowing)
Pulse Rate – Up
Blood Pressure – Up
Body Temperature – Up
Muscle Tone – Rigid
Overdose – Convulsions, hallucinations, agitation, body temperature increases
Time of Drug Effects
- Cocaine: 5 – 90 minutes
- Amphetamines: 4 – 8 hours
- Methamphetamines: 12 hours
Driving Under the Influence of Stimulants
A person arrested for driving under the influence of a stimulant drug could be charged with two different charges, depending on the substance. A person who drives with any amount of a stimulant drug that is a listed schedule I controlled substance could be charged with Operating With the Presence of a Schedule I Substance or Cocaine.
Many common stimulants are not schedule I drugs, however. For example, methamphetamine, and amphetamine drugs such as Ritalin and Adderrall, are schedule II substances. A person arrested for driving under the influence of a schedule II controlled substance would be charged with Operating While Intoxicated. The prosecution would have to prove that the non-schedule I substance substantially affected the driver’s ability to drive. This means it is not simply illegal to drive with Ritalin or Meth in your system: The drug must have a significant effect on you as well.
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Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.