Driving Under the Influence of Ecstasy
Part I: Ecstasy"Ecstasy," 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is popular among recreational drug users ages 17-25 who take the drug to experience heightened responsiveness to intimate touch, increased sexual stimulation, increased energy, elevated self-esteem and euphoria. Several recent studies have attempted to define MDMA/ecstasy impairment:
Part II: Scientific Studies* Nichols, "Differences Between the Mechanism of Action of MDMA, MBB and the Classic Hallucinogens, Identification of a New Therapeutic Class: Entactogens," 18 J. Psychoactive Drugs 305 (1986);
* Parrott & Lasky, "Ecstasy (MDMA) Effects Upon Mood and Cognition: Before, During and After a Saturday Night Dance," 139 Psychopharmacology, 261 (1998);
* McCann et al., "Cognitive Performance in (+3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy)) Users: A Controlled Study," 143 Psychopharmacology 417 (1999);
* Gauzoulis-Mayfrank, et al., "Impaired Cognitive Performance in Drug-Free Users of Recreational Ecstasy (MDMA)," 68 J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psych. 719 (2000);
Part III: "Indicators" of MDMA UseAssuming your client does not take a chemical test, these types of case are defensible. Because Ohio does not employ a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) protocol, you can use a lack of "indicators" for ecstasy with little chance that the officer can present evidence based on any specialized training to contradict you. Employing an expert should have particular impact in these types of cases. Often the indicators for alcohol come in conflict with the "indicators" for MDMA use. The indicators for MDMA include:
* Horizontal and vertical gaze not present;
* No lack of convergence;
* Dilated pupils with slow reaction to light;
* Elevated pulse rate;
* Elevated blood pressure; and
* Elevated body temperature.
Part IV: The burden is on the prosecutorDrug Evaluation and Classification Training Program -- The Drug Recognition Expert School, U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Institute, NHTSA 1999 ed, as cited in Barone, Defending Drinking Drivers, Second ed. at 1-103. Challenging this evidence at a motion to suppress would also require the prosecution to bring in an expert witness as the typical officer would lack the scientific background to present psychopharmalogical evidence. You should also focus your potential defenses on what the officer observed as indicators of impairment by MDMA and the typical defenses raised by creating a time line favorable to your client. These are defensible cases and the burden is on the prosecutor.