MADD: Illegal drugs don't always show up on toxicology reports
Accident victim frustrated after suspect's toxicology report comes back clean
Driving "under the influence" doesn't just refer to alcohol. Drivers can also be under the influence of drugs -- both prescription and illegal.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victims Specialist Mandy Fultz, illegal drugs don't always show up on toxicology reports, giving offenders an easy out.
On March 7, 2013, Rene Perez and his 12-year-old nephew were headed east on Walzem Road when the car they were in was hit head-on.
Perez said his nephew suffered from a shattered leg and broken collarbone and spent a week in intensive care.
"He had a near-death experience. He lost so much blood," Perez said.
He remembers rescue workers having to use the Jaws of Life to pry them out.
"I was trapped in the car, for what it felt like 15 minutes," Perez said.
According to Perez, the other driver crossed over a couple lanes before smashing into him, crushing his car on impact.
"The way (he) was driving, (he) was out of control. I thought it was a drunk driver," Perez said.
The other driver was arrested at the scene.
The police report revealed the investigating officer suspected drugs were a contributing factor, but when the toxicology report came back, the driver tested negative for alcohol and a slew of drugs.
The driver who struck Perez told police he fell asleep, but Perez wonders if he could've been under the influence of a drug that was not detected in the blood work.
"I don't know and it's very frustrating," Perez said.
"When that blood comes back negative, there's no charge. You can't charge somebody with the intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter if the blood comes back negative," said Fultz.
Most prescription and illegal drugs do show up in the blood work, according to Fultz, but some of the newer synthetic drugs do not.
"It seems everyone wants to play the whole 'Breaking Bad' game, and they're changing these drugs and the tests that are done at the Magistrate's Office or in the hospital to detect these things," Fultz said. "They're not in the standard drug test that they're looking for in those tests."
According to Cliff Herberg, in the District Attorney's office, the primary drug toxicology report only screens for so-called common drugs, like marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, but an investigator can request the blood work be screened again for other drugs not included in the original screen.
However, Herberg said there are drugs that will not be detected in the lab work.
"It's a scary thought to think that people could be doing (new synthetic drugs such as) KSpice or K2, and getting behind the wheel and causing serious bodily injury, causing deaths out there, and then there's no justice for these people," Fultz said.
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