SOFT - TIAFT 1998 Poster Session 4 Friday October 9, 1998

Lionel P. Raymon, Bernard W. Steele, H. Chip Walls

Pathology and Forensic Toxicology, University of Miami, School of Medicine, Miami, FL, 33177, USA

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressant drugs often detected in samples from driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. They are associated with marked psychomotor impairment and represent annually up to 20% of all Dade County (DUI) samples analyzed in our laboratory. Flunitrazepam emerged in the mid-90's as an illegal drug recreationally abused and associated with date-rapes. Following an alarming increase in incidents associated with the abuse of Rohypnol, the House of Representatives Committee on Crime and Punishment passed House Bill 91 in February 1997, reclassifying flunitrazepam from Schedule IV to Schedule I of the controlled substance list. We report the dramatic drop in DUI cases involving flunitrazepam compared to 1996 and 1995. The patterns of use were studied and in cases where Drug Recognition Examinations (DRE) were available, the DRE reports revealed the classical CNS depressant psychomotor impairment.

Flunitrazepam was confirmed in 4 out of 301 samples in 1997, the was present in nearly 10% of all DUI cases and represented close to 44% of all benzodiazepine cases in 1995 and 1996. It was the only benzodiazepine confirmed in these urine samples 90% of the time. It was most often found in combination with cocaine and marijuana (37%) or marijuana alone (33%). Very few cases involved flunitrazepam and cocaine alone (<8%).

In all cases, coordination was poor, evidenced by failure to perform standardized roadside tests (Rhomberg, finger to nose, walk and turn, and one leg stand). Speech was slurred, eyes were bloodshot and watery, mydriasis and horizontal gaze nystagmus were most often noted. A possible decrease in mean blood pressure was compensated by an increase in mean pulse pressure.

Interestingly, the reclassification of flunitrazepam to Schedule I coincides with a dramatic drop in the incidence of flunitrazepam in DUI samples from Dade County, FL.

Albuquerque logo
Previous Abstract
Friday Index

TIAFT '98 Homepage

TIAFTnet Homepage

Albuquerque logo
Next Abstract

Further information: or
TIAFT & CBFT 1995 - 1997 All Rights Reserved