As a lawyer for drug charges in Omaha, Daniel Stockmann has seen a major uptick in the number of marijuana-related arrests. Local law enforcement is known for patrolling the interstates and doing traffic stops for minor offenses, like failure to signal or a broken taillight, as well as unprovable offenses, like following too close or an unsafe lane change. They then use the stop to assess the potential for marijuana and, if they decide they have probable cause, will begin the search. Because neighboring states allow cannabis products and items are available for sale in stores, officers have little trouble grabbing people as they cross state lines with a marijuana or CBD oil that was lawfully purchased across state lines. It’s purely a numbers game. Pull over enough people and you’re bound to catch some with items they can’t bring into Nebraska. However, the latest technique involves a bit more effort than just running with the numbers.
Fatal Accidents are on the Rise
Impaired driving accidents are a major concern for Nebraskans. Just shy of a quarter of all fatalities last year involved drugs and alcohol, for a total of 56 deaths. For comparison, there were 52 deaths the year prior, but it worked out to about the same percentage. However, both are up dramatically since 2014, in which 41 lost their lives and 18.8% of fatal accidents involved drugs and alcohol. Incidents where only drugs played a role in the fatal accident have held steady at about 12% in recent years.
DREs are Taking to the Streets
Drug Recognition Experts, called DREs, aren’t necessarily anything new. Bellevue Police Sgt. Joe Milos says he first took the DRE class in 1994 and has been an instructor since 1996. Due to the rigorous training involved, some departments don’t even have a single DRE on staff, but those that do bring a little more to the table than random stops. In order to become a DRE, officers must already have completed a course in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFSTs). These officers learn the basic skills necessary to conduct the roadside sobriety tests commonly depicted in TV and movies. The DRE training is a three-part program. The first 16-hour class works partially like a refresher course for the SFST certification they already have and partially like a primer for the DRE material. The second portion lasts 56 hours and covers the rest of the bases, from teaching officers how to behave in the field to how to behave in a courtroom and present their case. Following this, officers are expected to test and prove their skills in the field, which includes doing a minimum of 12 evaluations and correctly identifying (with a minimum 75% accuracy rate) people under the influence of three of the seven drug categories. Yes, even during their testing phase, officers can mistakenly arrest more than one-in-five for DUI and still pass, and confirmation is made by toxicology results after an individual is detained. That said, law enforcement hopes DREs will play an integral role in more accurately identifying drugged drivers, as THC levels cannot be relied upon to determine if someone is actually impaired either.
Retain an Experienced Lawyer for Drug Charges in Omaha
Drug testing and field sobriety is an imperfect “science.” Officers are given less than two weeks of training to become a DRE and they’re allowed to get it wrong 25% of the time. Your life and livelihood is being placed in the hands of someone with minimal training who is allowed to be wrong about you. Thankfully, drawing attention to this and other inconsistencies within the enforcement process can often be used to have charges dropped or reduced. If you or a loved one is facing charges, get the help of an experienced lawyer for drug charges in Omaha. Daniel Stockmann uses every possible avenue to help his clients get their life back and has a successful track record to prove it. Call (844) 906-0641 to get your free case evaluation.