The purpose of this blog isn’t to pick on Tiger Wood’s situation but to simply use it as learning tool for my clients and their families who face similar criminal charges. Our criminal defense law firm always wants to provide value for its clients and demonstrate our expertise through our words through written publication like my videos, books and these blogs. Here, the famous professional golfer recently pled guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program to address his recent arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence in Palm Beach County, Florida.
What drugs were found in his system?
Toxicology reports have revealed that the following five (5) narcotic drugs were present in Woods’ system at the time of his arrest:
- Hydrocodone - Vicodin,
- Hydromorphone—a pain killer otherwise known as Dilaudid,
- Delta-9 Carboxy THC—the active ingredient in Marijuana (medical marijuana is legal in Florida).
The lack of alcohol and illegal drugs is irrelevant to DUI defense.
It’s important to keep in mind however, even if Woods’ medical doctor legally proscribed all of these drugs to him, it isn’t a defense for driving under the influence. If you recall, when Woods was arrested, he immediately claimed that he had not ingested any alcohol but didn’t comment on the presence of legal or illegal drugs in his system.
It is not a defense in Pennsylvania or Florida to assert that a person is not guilty of DUI because all the drugs were legally proscribed. The offense of driving under the influence only requires the prosecution to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was impaired. The prosecution can establish this burden through the results of a chemical test or simply through the testimony of a police officer. The results of a chemical test, however, will allow the prosecution to seek increased DUI penalties because, Florida, like Pennsylvania, maintains a tiered DUI statute. All these points are moot in Woods’ case because he has already entered a diversion program. If he successfully completes the program, the prosecutor will voluntarily withdraw prosecution and he can have his record expunged at a later time (most likely a year following completion of the program).
The result of the chemical test in a DUI prosecution.
Since the prosecution was able to present results of chemical tests, this means that Woods’ blood was taken following his arrest and so, he gave his consent for that blood draw and did not refuse. Remember that ever since the US Supreme Court decision of Birchfield v. North Dakota, police now need a search warrant for a DUI blood draw. In addition to a blood test, the Jupiter police also administered field sobriety tests and a field breathalyzer test, which registered a .00 BAC, which means he had no alcohol in his system, but again, the criminal offense of DUI isn’t limited to alcohol or illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, etc.
Obviously Woods is a professional athlete who has had multiple surgeries on his back beginning in the spring of 2014 and this could explain why he would have this combination of drugs in his system. Keep in mind that he is not charged with anything but DUI and reckless driving in this case. For more great information on criminal defense tactics and strategies, keep reading this blog and take some time to look around our website.