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Justin Bieber-A little science, please....

Posted by Tom Hudson | Feb 01, 2014 | 0 Comments

Despite my apathy about what happens to Justin Bieber, some people seem to care about him. Over 100,000 people have signed a petition on the “We the People” website for the deportation of the teen pop star.

That is not going to happen, and for good reason. The science just does not support the drug and alcohol charges lodged against the young man, and that is why the State Attorney's Office had no choice but to drop the criminal case against him.

First of all, we do not deport anyone for DUI. Whatever your personal feelings about the dangers of drinking and driving, the law requires commission of a “Crime Involving Moral Turpitude” before the immigration authorities take action. A single simple DUI not involving an injury accident would not render Bieber inadmissible to the U.S. under Immigration laws. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has observed that, historically, a simple DUI offense is not considered a CIMT (Crime Involving Moral Turpitude) because the conduct involved need not be deliberate and is often accidental or negligent.But more importantly, Justin Bieber did not commit DUI.

In Florida, there are two ways the state can prove DUI: Either they can prove that your breath alcohol exceeded .08 or they can prove that alcohol or drugs impaired your normal faculties.Justin Bieber's highest breath alcohol was measured at .014. Not .14, but .014. About 1/6 of the legal limit. At that level, the technology used to test him cannot even measure accurately. The margin of error for a breath test is approximately .02. As a DUI lawyer, I frequently see cases where consecutive breath tests are more than .02 apart within a period of three minutes. Using an Intoxilyzer 8000 to accurately measure a .014 breath is like trying to find out about a snowflake using only your sense of touch.

As far as scientific validity is concerned, a .014 breath test is the same as a .00 breath test.

The second way for the State to prove DUI is “impairment.” Other than the boilerplate recitations of bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol, there is simply no indication of impairment in the arrest records for young Mr. Bieber. And certainly no impairment by alcohol.

But what about drugs?

Toxicology reports from Miami University appeared to indicate that Bieber had taken drugs. But not so fast. There were two positive findings out of eight substances tested. The first was Alprazolam, or Xanax. Alprazolam is the most-prescribed psychiatric drug in the U.S., and is used by millions of people for control of anxiety or as a sleep aid.

While Alprazolam has potential for abuse, it can be taken without causing any impairment when used according to directions. The toxicology report did not quantify the amount of Alprazolam in Bieber's system, so it is unknown if it was sufficient to impair. If Bieber has a prescription for Xanax, then there simply is no case for Xanax impairment.

The other “drug” found in Bieber's system was not really a drug at all. It was something known as “Carboxy-THC” and is a second generation metabolite of the active ingredient in marijuana. That is, it is a by-product of the impairing ingredient. It is completely non-impairing itself and its presence indicates only that Bieber had been exposed to marijuana within the last week or so.

Here is what is more important: the Bieber toxicology report was negative for the active ingredient in marijuana, “Delta-9 THC.” In other words, the state's evidence would show precisely the opposite of what most people think. Justin Bieber had some recent exposure to marijuana, but the active ingredients were absent from his system. He was not high.

It might be possible that prosecutors could prove Bieber was committing some traffic violation (although GPS records seem to indicate that there was no drag racing). And he may have been acting like a spoiled child. However, despite all of the hoopla, the probability of proving a case of DUI against Justin Bieber was just about zero.

About the Author

Tom Hudson

Known nationwide as a leading DUI defense lawyer, Tom has tried over 350 jury trials, including numerous death penalty cases. He now limits his criminal practice to DUI defense. His civil practice is devoted to getting fair compensation for the victims of negligence. Tom has attained multiple verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million, and is a Life Member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In 2008, Tom Hudson passed the National Board Certification Test for DUI Attorneys in Honolulu, Hawaii. NOTE: The State of Florida does not yet recognize DUI defense as a Specialty.


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Board Certification as a DUI Specialist by the National College for DUI Defense. Formal NHTSA Certification as an Instructor of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests given by police in DUI cases. Formal training as a NHTSA Drug Recognition Evaluator. ("Drug Evaluation & Classification") Formal training to operate the Intoxilyzer 8000, Florida's official breath test instrument. Extensive experience in teaching other attorneys how to handle DUI cases. Hundreds of jury trials both as defense lawyer and as prosecutor.