Kalamazoo residents and readers of this blog are well aware of police efforts to crack down on controlled substances. Often, police will use a traffic stop as an excuse to search a vehicle, as we discussed in a post last month. More recently, a traffic stop in Burr Oak, a little over an hour outside Kalamazoo, led to a seizure of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms by St. Joseph County police officers.
When officers pulled over a vehicle at approximately 3 a.m., they claim that they found the driver to be intoxicated. The driver, a man in his mid-40's, was also allegedly driving on a suspended license. Officers proceeded to search the man's vehicle and found the drugs, along with several thousand dollars in cash.
The man was arrested at the scene and charged with multiple offenses, including marijuana and hallucinogenic drug possession, driving with a suspended license and having open intoxicants inside a vehicle. The county's narcotics unit is continuing to investigate the case.
Even with police claiming to have found marijuana in the car, proving that a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of an arrest is no easy matter for prosecutors. Typically, law enforcement officials rely on blood or urine test results to check for illegal substances in the bloodstream. However, the active component in marijuana may be detected by a urinalysis or blood test for up to five weeks after use, so such a test cannot always establish that a driver was driving while intoxicated with absolute certainty.
Despite the limitations of drug testing, Michigan is one of 15 states with "per se" drugged driving laws, making it illegal to drive with any detectable amount of certain substances in the bloodstream at all. Knowing this, it could be beneficial for anyone facing charges like this to contact a legal professional as soon as possible in order to protect their rights and ensure a strong legal defense against the charges.