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Prescription Medicine Can Lead to DUI Charge

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Prescription Medicine Can Lead to DUI ChargeDriving under the influence in California applies to more than just alcohol. You can be charged with DUI for being under the influence of drugs. The penalties for DUID are the same, including fines, a driver’s license suspension, and possible jail time. Many people associate being under the influence of drugs with getting high from recreational drugs such as marijuana. However, drugs can include legally prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Police will not excuse your impaired driving simply because you have a prescription for the drug.

Side Effects

Many prescribed drugs can cause side effects that may impair a user’s ability to drive, such as drowsiness or dizziness. These medicines include:

  • Pain relievers;
  • Sleeping pills;
  • Antihistamines;
  • Decongestants;
  • Antidepressants; and
  • Medical marijuana.

Some people are more susceptible to these side effects than others. When starting a new medication, you should keep track of its effect on you to determine whether it is impairing your vision, motor skills, or ability to stay attentive. You should also heed warnings about mixing the prescription with alcohol because it may worsen the side effects.

Determining Impairment

Unlike with alcohol, California law does not have an objective measurement to determine whether prescription drugs have legally impaired a driver. Prosecutors instead rely on subjective observations as to the driver’s condition, such as:

  • The driver’s behavior leading up to a traffic stop or accident;
  • Whether the driver showed physical symptoms that are associated with intoxication;
  • How the driver responded to questions from the police officer;
  • Whether the driver admitted to taking any drugs or consuming alcohol; and
  • How the driver performed on field sobriety tests.

Once the driver is in custody, a blood test can determine the level of any drugs in the driver’s systems, including prescription medication or over-the-counter medicines.

Legal Defenses

A DUID case relies on the testimony from the arresting officer. You should refuse any field sobriety tests because the results can be misleading and will likely only add evidence against you. You can also refuse to give a blood sample for a test until police present a warrant, although refusing will result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. The prosecution must prove that you were legally impaired when driving and that the drug you had taken was the cause of your impairment. You can argue that you were not actually impaired or that conditions such as natural fatigue or illness caused your impairment.

Contact a Sonoma DUI Defense Attorney

There are many ways to contest a DUI charge, from the justification for your traffic stop to the accuracy of tests. A San Francisco DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can identify the strategy that is most likely to help you beat the charge against you. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.



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