Heroin has become an increasingly popular drug throughout the county of Orange, across the state of California, and even all over the country. The use of heroin is no longer reserved for a select group of people but has expanded due to the use and abuse of opiate prescription medications as a gateway drug. There are different types of heroin and terms for heroin: brown or black tar heroin, blue-steel, junk, horse, smack, China white, or H. Heroin comes into the United States by smugglers from Mexico or South America and it is transported across state lines by drug suppliers.
In our criminal law office, we see clients charged and accused of driving under the influence, charged under VC section 23152 (e). In these cases it is important that all defenses are explored in order to adequately evaluate the case. Heroin uses may experience the effects of the drug as it relaxed them, makes them feel sedated or lethargic, and it can cause mental-clouding and a disconnectedness from reality. The drug is commonly snorted, smoked or injected. The method of use effects the ability to determine whether someone was under the influence of the drug for the purposes of driving offenses. Heroin use may be detected by the police through a blood or urine test or by the admission of the driver. Sometimes an officer will initially locate heroin in the vehicle and also observe the driver to demonstrate objective symptoms of heroin use. The legality of that search will be something the DUI lawyer will evaluate and discuss with the client, followed by motions if appropriate in the superior court.
Some of the effects of heroin are the same as other opiate drugs. They may include feelings of euphoria and well-being as well as relaxation or drowsiness. They may also decrease motor skills. Early effects after use can include slower reaction time, sleepiness, and per performance on tests that measure reaction divided attention. As time goes on, an individual may also become less attentive, continue to make errors and have slow reaction time, be distractible, tired and perform poorly on psychomotor functions. All of these effects can yield a negative effect on driving.
An officer may observe someone under the influence of heroin driving slowing, failing to stop in time, weaving, or falling asleep at the wheel. Those driving patters may lead an officer to pull the driver over to conduct tests by a DRE officer who can test for objective symptoms of impairment. Some symptoms a DRE may demonstrate are horizontal and/or vertical gaze nystagmus and lack of convergence. A person’s pupils may be small and not react to light. Their pulse rate may be low, their blood pressure may be low, and their body temperature may also be low.
A defense to driving under the influence of heroin may be that the person was not actually driving. In such cases, the person may have driven and then used drugs and fallen asleep in the car without actually operating it. In other cases, it may be shown that the use of heroin may have been remote in time enough to not impair the individual’s ability to drive. For example, if a person was pulled over for having expire tags on their vehicle but admits to using heroin, an officer would still need to determine that they were under the influence. A prosecutor would need to try to connect the dots at trial to show that use actually meant impairment. At a trial, a prosecutor would need to bring in a DRE expert to demonstrate how heroin effects the body, how it leads to impaired driving, and the jury would need to determine whether that was the case in this individual case and under these individual facts. If the prosecutor cannot do this, the jury must acquit the defendant. We call that a successful defensive win.
The attorneys at the Johnson Criminal Law Group have over 15 years of experience handling DUI cases involving both alcohol and drugs. We are in the best position to help you define the best strategy in your case and to get you the best result. Contact us today.