eISSN: 1689-1716
ISSN: 0324-8267
Archiwum Medycyny Sądowej i Kryminologii/Archives of Forensic Medicine and Criminology
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vol. 65
Original paper

Medico-legal and legal-penal aspects of expert opinions and adjudication in cases of intoxications with intoxicating agents and ethanol-like intoxicants

Monika Ćwiklińska
Grzegorz Teresiński
Grzegorz Buszewicz

Arch Med Sąd Kryminol 2015; 65 (2): 77–89
Online publish date: 2015/08/03
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Introduction: The available legal regulations in Poland do not define the concentration thresholds enabling to differentiate between the states of “after-use” versus “under the influence” of a drug, as it is in the case of alcohol. The aim of the study was to analyse jurisdiction in cases regarding the evaluation of the effects of intoxicating agents and ethanol-like intoxicants and to identify ambiguities and gaps in the applicable regulations leading to problems in preparing expert opinions.

Material and methods: The material included the opinions of experts in the field of toxicology and forensic medicine made by the Department of Forensic Medicine in Lublin in the years 2009–2011 and records obtained in the process of inquiry from the regional prosecutor’s offices and courts in 52 cases.

Results: Amongst 52 cases in which the ordered toxicology examinations demonstrated the presence of intoxicating agents in drivers’ blood (tetrahydrocannabinols in 39 and amphetamine in 21 cases) in 2 cases petty offence proceedings were instituted (Art. 87 of the Petty Offence Code) although high concentrations of xenobiotics indicated the state of being “under the influence” of a narcotic drug (Art. 178a of the Penal Code). Three cases were discontinued despite expert opinions that the drivers were at least in the after-narcotic use state. In only 3 cases were witnesses asked to provide testimony about the circumstances of the driver’s conduct.

Conclusions: The analysis has demonstrated that judicial bodies expect forensic expertise based exclusively on toxicological examination results; when expert findings are inconclusive, they only administer litigations opportunistically applying the principle of the presumption of innocence understood literally. Considering the above, threshold values of “use” and “influence” of the most commonly detected drugs should be urgently determined.

intoxicating agents, driving under the influence, driving “after-use”, forensic expertise, adjudication

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