GLENS FALLS — Angela Lynds isn’t sure what caused police to conclude she was impaired after a two-car crash in Glens Falls last March. She thinks it was probably her shock about the collision and concern over the condition of her two young sons in the back seat.
A test by officers using a new device indicated she had used amphetamines, and the Gansevoort woman was charged with felony aggravated driving while impaired by drugs and with multiple misdemeanors.
She was charged with a felony because she had children in her vehicle. A followup investigation by Warren County Child Protective Services ensued, and her driver’s license was suspended.
Ten months later, the felony charge and charges that accused Lynds of driving under the influence of drugs have been dismissed, with Lynds pleading guilty to reckless driving, a misdemeanor, instead.
The dismissals came after she paid $8,000 for legal assistance to the Syracuse-area firm Anelli Xavier. She also paid to have an analysis of the blood sample that police took from her to try to quantify the medication in her blood, which showed only the presence of a medication she was prescribed, Adderall. It is a stimulant/amphetamine used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
But she said it was money that was wasted because she never should have been charged in the first place. Officers jumped to the conclusion she was impaired and to blame for the accident, she said.
“I had my two boys in my car. It’s not something I would do,” she said of driving impaired.
The arrest shines a light on the emerging science and police tactics when officers try to determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs.
While detecting alcohol use in a driver is fairly easy because of the smell and other outward signs, evidence of drug use can be tougher to find.
As prescription drug abuse has increased and the opioid crisis raged, police agencies have sent officers to special schools for training as “drug recognition experts.” The Glens Falls Police Department was the first in the region to buy and begin using a machine, Drager DrugTest 5000, that can detect drug use through a saliva test.
Lynds was the first person to be arrested in Glens Falls using the machine.
No one was injured in the March 3 collision on Broad Street, but Lynds was taken from the crash scene to Glens Falls Hospital to give a blood sample for testing. She said her sons, then ages 9 months and 2 years, remained behind with police.
Glens Falls Police Detective Lt. Peter Casertino said he saw Lynds in the police station that day, and she did seem impaired at the time, having trouble speaking and moving. Court records show she failed multiple field sobriety tests, and that the arresting officer concluded she was impaired.
Lynds, though, said any issues she had were not related to taking her medication, which she had done earlier in the day as prescribed. The dosage she uses does not include a limitation or warning about driving after taking it.
Her lawyer, Constantine Destefano, wrote to Glens Falls Judge Gary Hobbs that the level of Adderall in Lynds’ bloodstream was “was in the order of 10 times below the stated cutoff point” for the test to be considered positive.
“The results showed that the only substance in Ms. Lynds’ blood at the time of the arrest was her prescribed Adderall,” Destefano wrote. “In fact, the levels indicated are within a normal range of someone with a prescription for that particular substance.”
Lynds, 34, acknowledged she had a prior drunken driving arrest in the Albany area when she was in college, but said whatever issues police noted that day last March had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.
Months later, she said the felony arrest has hindered her ability to find work with her psychology degree, in part due to media coverage. In addition to a write-up in The Post-Star, at least two Albany television stations reported on the case last March.
(Per Post-Star policy, the online version of the original arrest write-up was amended to show the disposition of the charges.)
“It’s the first thing people see when they Google my name,” she said. “I just want to move on with my life.”