Interviewer: What are metabolites exactly?
Sam Sachs: I’m no chemist or biologist, but they are the after products of the body ingesting marijuana and metabolizing it. They look for the metabolites, the after products of ingestion and they get stored in fat cells. They can detect them in urine samples. It takes a long time for the body to flush them out. I’ve had people have positive urines when they are adamant they did not use marijuana and I’ve been doing this over 32 years. It’s not like I’m a new kid and I just figured it out and I’m going to listen to someone’s baloney. I’ve heard over and over again by people that I believe are credible. Some say, yeah I smoked it 3 weeks ago and they still had a positive urine.
Testing Positive for Metabolites Can Bolster the Prosecutions Chances of Charging that Person With a Drug Related DUI
Interviewer: If that was the case and it was, several weeks ago maybe even a month back can that still affect their case.
Sam Sachs: It’s one of the lynch pins that the State’s going to use. If you’re accused of being under the influence of marijuana and there are no metabolites in your system, you obviously didn’t have any. They’re wrong, but if you’re accused, based on the way you look and act, of being under the influence of marijuana and then they find the metabolites and since they can’t tell whether they’re fresh or not in the way that it’s tested in New Jersey, that bolsters their case. Of course, if you have some alcohol in your system at the same time, let’s say you’re lower than the legal limit. The legal limit in New Jersey is .08 and you blow a .04, probably not intoxicated, but then you come up positive with metabolites, then they will say ah, I see that he had alcohol and marijuana in his system, so that’s how they try and build a case.
If Police Suspect Drug Usage They’re Going to Have the Suspect Evaluated by a Drug Recognition Expert
Interviewer: Are they still going to be subjected to a roadside field sobriety test?
Sam Sachs: Yes, but if they suspect marijuana or other drugs, they’re going to try and find an Officer who has taken the DRE training, the Drug Recognition Expert Course, and have the suspect evaluated. The reason I say that Drug Recognition Experts are of dubious value is because there has never been any proof, introduced in a New Jersey court, that the Drug Recognition Expert’s analysis of a suspect is scientifically reliable. We have cases that say in order for this type of evidence to be admitted, it has to be scientifically reliable, and I submit and routinely defend cases, by saying Drug Recognition Experts are not scientifically reliable. There has never been a hearing as to their reliability and I assert their testimony should not, be taken into evidence.
There Must be a Scientific Basis to Prove the Influence of Drugs on an Individual
Some judges will agree and some won’t but that’s what the law requires. If I decide, all of a sudden, that I can determine whether somebody is taking amphetamines by looking at their earwax, I have to prove that, that that’s a scientific way of determining they took amphetamines. Obviously, I’m using some hyperbole here, but the point is you just can’t make a claim and say it’s okay. I submit that the Police Officer who takes a one-week course cannot determine that there is sufficient medical evidence that someone’s, under the influence of anything in particular and also, I don’t think a doctor can without lab tests.
In Certain Situations, Sober People May Admit to Drug Use Under Duress
Examination by a doctor without any laboratory tests to confirm prior use is not possible. No doctor is going to say when someone is under the influence. What happens is the police take blood pressure, they look in the suspect’s eyes they take some physical tests, they take urine and/or blood then they repeatedly ask the defendant “so what did you take”. The defendant eventually will cop to having taken something and low and behold, the DRE’s conclusion is that they were under the influence of whatever the defendant says he took. I have had people confess to having stuff in their system that they took days before or have confessed to having stuff in their system because they felt brow beaten and then when they had their urine analyzed, there was nothing found.
Prosecutors Heavily Rely on a Confession to Prove Drug Use in a Drug Related DUI Charge
My favorite case is a guy who is asked repeatedly with “what did you take, we know you took something, what are you under the influence of.” He was tired and it wasn’t a good day for him. He had no alcohol in his system and he had surgery 3 days before. He says, “Well I, I took painkillers.” What did they then do? They say he’s under the influence of pain killers and that’s the conclusion the DRE came to, that he was under the influence of OxyContin. He said, “Well I did have some OxyContin,” but he’s thinking three days before. The DRE took a urine specimen and then the defendant hires me to represent him. I get the urine test and what was in his system? Nothing but Viagra. I had some fun with that when I told the prosecutor I didn’t think his evidence would stand up to scrutiny. Case dismissed.