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Synthetic Marijuana (“Spice”) DUI Charges Hard To Prove Based Upon Georgia Crime Lab Tests

The following article was recently posted in a Georgia newspaper.  It is interesting that the only comments sought by the reporter were from a DUI Task Force cop.  What the article and the cop fail to report is that, not only do crime labs in Georgia and across the nation have the inability to test for this substance in blood and urine, police have no training in what to look for when a driver is detained by police and they suspect the driver to be under the influence.

Field Sobriety “Tests” have been used to determine if a suspect is impaired by alcohol, yet the majority of peer review articles that have sought to determine if they are accurate have concluded that they are not.  The Los Angeles Police Department (not scientists) developed a Drug Recognition “Expert” program that similarly is unscientific, yet police officers across the nation are being taught its methods, and citizens are being arrested and charged in every community.

There is no protocol, scientific or otherwise, for law enforcement to determine if a driver is under the influence of synthetic marijuana.  None.

Yet law enforcement has begun making arrests in cases where they cannot determine what drug the person may have ingested (if at all), and if they have similar attributes to the unscientific protocol used to determine if a person is impaired by marijuana.  DUI defense lawyers and ethical scientists are the only ones in our society who are raising the red flag to say STOP!  Until the government has the ability to accurately and responsibly accuse a citizen of DUI synthetic marijuana, it is shameful to accuse a person of a crime where their evidence is unreliable, inaccurate, and merely guesswork.  Our Constitution demands that the State prove every criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.  Where the government’s own witnesses have that doubt before an arrest is even made, no charges should be brought.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Prosecuting drivers under the influence of synthetic cannabinoid products, or spice, is proving to be a challenge in Georgia, authorities said.

Changes in the drug are outpacing the crime lab’s ability to test for it, The Augusta Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/LBLPHl ).

Spice has an effect on drivers that’s almost identical to marijuana, said Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Danny Whitehead, who is a supervisor on the department’s DUI task force.

The slowed reaction time and general lack of awareness make driving dangerous, but getting users off the street through court cases can be difficult because of a lack of proof, authorities said.

Spice is a chemical drug that is constantly evolving, Whitehead said. He said that every time one version becomes illegal, producers alter it slightly, making it legal again. The changes can make it difficult to test for the drug.

In February, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency extended a temporary order that makes five of the chemicals used to produce spice illegal through Aug. 29.

Georgia law makes about 90 percent of synthetic cannabinoid products illegal, Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokesman John Bankhead said.

Currently, the GBI can test for some versions of spice and are expanding testing capabilities, Bankhead said.

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Information from: The Augusta Chronicle ,augustachronicle.com”>http://www.augusta

About Mike Hawkins

Mike Hawkins
ATTORNEY MICHAEL HAWKINS is one of only four lawyers in Georgia who has been recognized by the American Bar Association as Board Certified in DUI Defense. Hawkins is listed among the Best Lawyers in America in DUI Defense and has been named a Super Lawyer in Atlanta Magazine for the last 9 years. The Hawkins Law Firm handles only contested DUI charges. They have the experience, skills and commitment to make a difference for their clients and their proactive approach to fighting DUI cases has proven successful. The reputation of your lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of your case. After 20 years of practice, Mike and his staff have developed strong working relationships with judges and court staff, and with prosecutors and their staff. Mike is a graduate of Emory University School of Law and is a former DUI prosecutor in metro Atlanta. He is recognized nationally and has been invited to teach DUI Defense seminars all over a dozen states. His goal is simple – to work hard towards keeping a DUI off your record. Most of the clients that the Hawkins Law Firm assists are professionals who want to protect their record and keep their drivers license. If you or someone you know has a DUI charge and needs a lawyer who works hard to achieve positive results, call the Hawkins Law Firm.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://www.hawkinsduilaw.com


One comment

  1. Spice was made as a legal, synthetic marijuana. It makes sense that spice would be hard to prove and convict. Fortunately, marijuana reform has led to less spice incidents and more people using a substance that’s safer, healthier and not going to pose a serious health risk. It’s good to see spice usage declining! Stories like this were common just years ago.

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