You Don’t Need Alcohol to Be Intoxicated

According to common understanding, the term DUI refers to drunk driving. This assumption is frequently correct, but not always. In the State of Indiana, DUI is an informal name for what’s officially called OVWI, or operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

There are many ways to become intoxicated, and drinking too much is only one of them. Indiana has a broad statutory definition for the term intoxicated, which means under the influence of:

  • alcohol;
  • a controlled substance;
  • a drug other than alcohol or a controlled substance;
  • toxic vapors or nitrous oxide;
  • any combination of the above; or
  • any other substance , not including food ingredients, tobacco, or a dietary supplement;

so that there is an impaired condition of thought or action and the loss of normal control of a person’s faculties.

Pills and other controlled substances can produce intoxicating effects.

If police suspect you of DUI / OVWI, but their portable breath test doesn’t register any alcohol, they might decide to have you take a blood test. Blood tests can show the presence of controlled substances, whereas a breath test is only looking for ethanol. A blood test might turn up evidence of illegal drugs or prescription medication. It’s illegal to drive while intoxicated on either.

Blood tests are more thorough, but they can still go wrong in a number of ways. Objections to the admission of their results may include:

  • that the kit used to collect the sample was expired;
  • that the blood-draw kits weren’t stored at a stable temperature;
  • that the blood-draw was performed by an unauthorized individual;
  • that the test tubes used to collect the sample didn’t contain the proper perservatives and anticoagulants;
  • that the officer didn’t properly transport the sample to the lab;
  • that the lab didn’t properly store the sample prior to testing;
  • that at the time of analysis, the chemist didn’t look for any clotting or microbial contamination that could compromise the results; and
  • that the testing equipment is working properly.

If you weren’t caught with drugs in your possession, the results of a blood test may be the only thing the State can hang its case on. In that event, you can be sure you want an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to keep those results out of evidence.

In the event that the blood results are admitted, there are still a couple of affirmative defenses that might be available to you. First, it’s possible to assert that you were involuntarily intoxicated. This either means someone drugged you without your consent, or it means you took something that was not expected to cause intoxication. If the State finds evidence of a controlled substance in your blood, you can also assert that you consumed the substance under a valid prescription. Of course, you should only make this claim if you can back it up.

The attorneys at the Marc Lopez Law Firm deal with DUI / OVWI cases every day. They know how circumstantial evidence works, and they also understand what it means when the State goes to trial without any chemical test results. Give us a call at 317-632-3642, and remember—always plead the 5th!