Can You Get a DUI For Legal Drug Use?
Many of us take drugs every day without thinking twice about them, both prescription drugs and over-the-counter-drugs. We take them for pain, to help us sleep, and to alleviate the symptoms of various illnesses.
It’s common to forget many of these drugs can make you drowsy. Unfortunately, their legality won’t be an issue if you get pulled over by a cop who then arrests you for driving under the influence. It’s the influence of the drug, and not the drug itself, forming the basis for the criminal charge.
In fact, up to 15% of DUI cases in New York involve prescription medication.
While we’d certainly advise you to be careful before getting behind the wheel of the car when you’re taking medicine, we’d also note there are ways to help defend these charges.
No Dosage Guidelines
The law clearly prohibits a blood alcohol level of .o8 or higher. There is no similar standard for prescription drugs.
This means prosecutors will be forced to focus on the quality of your driving, and it can be harder for them to prove whether your driving was bad enough to constitute a criminal act.
Granted, if you had an accident the accident will factor heavily both into your case and whether there are additional charges, especially if there were fatalities.
All the defenses available to a DWI client are available to you as well. For example, we can look into whether the police stop was proper in the first place, or whether the police officer properly administered a field sobriety test.
Field sobriety tests are especially suspect in DUI cases involving OTC or prescription drugs. The tests are different depending on what the officer is testing for. If the officer gives you a test meant for alcoholism then you could have grounds for keeping all of that evidence out of the case.
Be Careful What You Say
When you get pulled over you should resist the urge to say something like, “I haven’t taken anything. I just have a legal prescription.”
Or, “All I had was a Benadryl, jeez!”
All you’re doing at this point is strengthening the prosecution’s case. Just maintain your right to remain silent. Ask for a lawyer as quickly as possible.
Be aware you may be asked to take a urine test if you’re taken into custody. The police will get a warrant, so you won’t be able to refuse. Just take the test and wait for your lawyer.
Even if you’ve messed up at some point, a good lawyer may be able to help you either get the charges dismissed, get them reduced, or get you acquitted by defending you at trial. Put a former prosecutor on your side. If you need help, call Scott Russell Law today.