Operating a Vehicle with a Metabolite in Your System

DUI’s In Indiana Involving Things Other Than Alcohol

Almost every single person alive has heard that you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence, Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated, and/or Operating While Intoxicated when you are intoxicated by alcohol. But, did you know you can be found guilty of Operating a Vehicle with a Metabolite in your system?  For being intoxicated by the metabolite and for just having it in your system without intoxication?!?! And, you might be surprised as to what counts as a “metabolite” in Indiana, and that it can be charged two different ways.

But, if you aren’t a doctor you might be asking yourself, “what in the world is a metabolite?” In scientific terms, a metabolite is a foreign substance that is introduced into the body that causes significant chemical changes and reactions in the body leaving behind traceable drug-based chemistry. There are active and inactive metabolites in your blood — active being substances that are currently present in the blood or urine while causing intoxication at the time of operating the vehicle (i.e. drugs recently consumed prior to operating the vehicle). Inactive metabolites are those chemicals that can be found in the blood, hair or urine days, weeks and even months after they were consumed, yet there is no active intoxication (i.e. drugs consumed in the past that aren’t causing current intoxication but are still measurable). Unfortunately, Indiana does not distinguish between the two, and both can lead to criminal charges: (1) as a per se charge — meaning if the metabolite is found in your system, you are guilty without proving intoxication, or (2) a metabolite causing intoxication. Per se metabolite charges are filed as C Misdemeanors, with penalties ranging from 0-60 days. If it involves intoxication, it can be charged as a C Misdemeanor if there is no endangerment, or it can be charged as an A Misdemeanor (penalties of 0-365 days in jail) if endangerment is found.
Focusing on charges other than per se filings, regardless of the substance involved, Indiana’s laws focus on whether the individual is “intoxicated.”
According to IC 35-46-9-2, “intoxicated” is defined as “under the influence of:(1) alcohol;(2) a controlled substance;(3) any drug (as defined in IC 9-13-2-49.1) other than alcohol or a controlled substance;(4) any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs;or(5) any other substance, not including food and food ingredients (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-20), tobacco (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-28), or a dietary supplement (as defined in IC 6-2.5-1-16);so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of an individual’s faculties.”As you can see, intoxicated covers things other than alcohol…like controlled substances (prescribed legally and obtained illegally), and illicit drugs.
People are often shocked by this definition…as many people don’t realize that metabolites aren’t always illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, LSD, meth, etc. After all, that makes sense to most people. If you are operating a vehicle with an illicit drug in your system, that shouldn’t be allowed, right? While those do count and account for thousands of DUI’s in Indiana, one of the biggest contributors to arrests in Indiana are cases involving controlled substances and legally prescribed medicines! Substances like Ambien, Xanax, Oxycontin, etc., all that can be given by way of a valid prescription, can all cause different levels of intoxication — thus, all of them can lead to criminal charges if it’s proven the levels of substances are causing intoxication especially. But, what is shocking to people is that you can still be charged with a C Misdemeanor just for having a metabolite in your system…even if the metabolite is inactive and isn’t causing intoxication at the time the vehicle was operated!!!
Considering that DUI’s can lead to jail time, high fines, and loss of driving privileges (often 0-2 years), it’s important that you understand the ramifications for getting caught driving on substances other than alcohol. As such, it’s essential you hire an attorney that has experience with alcohol and non-alcohol related DUI’s. The experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC have the experience to help you with your DUI case. Both Adam Brower and Brad Banks both served as prosecutors specializing in OVWI/DUI law as prosecutors, and having tried hundreds of cases, they have the experience to help you through your difficult situation. Give us a call 24/7/365 at 317.870.0019 and info@banksbrower.com.