Prescription drugs are being noted now, more than ever, in relation to drug crimes. When people often think of drug crimes, they think of illicit drugs that you might buy on the street like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. However, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs if abused or taken at an inappropriate time. They can result in drug crime-related charges too, even if you are prescribed the medication.
Warning labels on over-the-counter medication or prescribed medication can help a person know whether a drug could be dangerous when behind the wheel. Not making oneself aware of this prior to a DUI charge is not a legitimate defense. Some common prescription drugs that have been known to result in a DUI charge include antidepressants, sleeping pills and hydrocodone. However, over-the-counter medications like antihistamines can have a similar effect, making a person drowsy or slowing their response time.
If you have a medical prescription for marijuana, that does not give you the right to drive while impaired by the drug. It can be more difficult for law enforcement to pinpoint the level of impairment for drug-related DUIs as there is no breathalyzer that detects drug impairment. Blood tests and field sobriety tests are often utilized in cases in which one is accused of DUI. Drugs have a variety of lengths of time that they stay in one's system.
Some law enforcement officials are trained to locate and assess drivers that are exhibiting DUI/DWI-related behaviors. Things like swerving, failing to maintain speed or to stop on time, and erratic driving could tip an officer off that a person is intoxicated behind the wheel. If not impaired by alcohol, officers often investigate the possibility of prescription drugs and their affect on a driver. The results can be just as devastating as driving drunk, if convicted, so it is important to build a strong criminal defense against DUI charges.
Source: FindLaw, "Driving Under the Influence of Drugs," Accessed October 16, 2017