Fentanyl is in the category of drugs known as opiates, drugs derived from opium. Drugs in this group include morphine, codeine, and heroin. These drugs act as painkillers.
The drugs vary in terms of strength, but they all produce similar effects. For example, heroin has two to three times the strength of morphine. Fentanyl is about 75 times the strength of morphine. Some opiates can be thousands of times stronger than morphine.
Fentanyl use has become common with the increased opiate use across many communities in America. You can see based on the relative strength of fentanyl how much stronger it is than heroin. Many people believe they are using heroin when in fact they are using fentantyl, which is dangerous because of how much stronger fenatnyl is than heroin.
The Fentanyl High
As an opiate, fentanyl’s chief effect is relief from pain. There are feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Users feel a pleasant, dreamy state where there is no pain. The injection of the fentanyl brings a rush of pleasure.
Drug Recognition Experts Looking for Drivers Impaired by Fentanyl
Specially trained officers known as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) are on the lookout for drivers impaired by controlled substances. The DREs divide the commonly used and abused drugs into seven categories – one of those categories are narcotic analgesics, to which fentanyl belongs.
A person under the influence of fentanyl, according to the DREs, might be drowsy, with droopy eyes, and depressed reflexes. (Though the DREs believe these symptoms are associated with other types of drug use as well – drug recognition is not an exact science).
A person under the influence of fentantyl will have depressed bodily functions. Blood pressure, pulse, breathing rate, and body temperature will all be slower than normal because fentanyl is a depressant. Reaction time may be slower and coordination may be less than usual as well.
Driving Under the Influence of Fentanyl
A person can be charged with operating while intoxicated by fentanyl. The exact charge is called operating while intoxicated by a controlled substance. The prosecution must prove the driver’s ability to drive in a normal manner was significantly effected by the drug.
Unlike the charge of operating with the presence of a schedule I substance (like heroin, a similar substance), there must be a showing the drug had an effect on the driver. For heroin and other schedule I controlled substances, the prosecution must only show that the driver had any amount of the schedule I substance in the body, regardless of whether the driver was effected by the drug. To be convicted of OWI by fentanyl, a person must be impaired by fentanyl.
Fentanyl certainly has the ability to impair a person’s ability to driver, but whether a person is actually impaired is up to a jury though.
Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Lawyer in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.