While drunk driving is on the rise, drugged driving is also a serious problem for drivers and pedestrians. Most people think of illegal drugs when they think of drugged driving. However, it’s equally illegal to drive under the influence of prescription drugs as it is to drive under the influence of a drug like cocaine or heroin.
A Growing Problem
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as 20 percent of all drivers have a drug in their system while they’re on the road. When those drugs influence your ability to drive, you may be guilty of driving under the influence (DUI). To determine whether a driver is guilty of drugged driving, the jury examines the evidence to see if the drugs influence their ability to drive in a normal manner. When the answer is yes, they may convict the driver of drunk driving.
Whether or Not You Have a Valid Prescription
A driver can be a drugged driver whether or not they have a valid prescription for the drugs that they use. In fact, this is how a lot of people get into trouble. You may have a valid prescription from your doctor for a legitimate medical need. Even if you take the drug exactly as your doctor says to take it, it can still make you a drunk driver. It’s up to each driver to know the effects of their medication before they make the choice to get behind the wheel.
It Must Be A Controlled Substance
Most states have a list of controlled substances. These are substances that you either can’t use at all or substances that you can’t use without a valid prescription. Each state publishes a list of controlled substances. They’re usually classified into schedules based on the dangers and the medicinal uses of the drugs. If a drug appears on the schedule of controlled substances, it’s usually a qualifying substance for drugged driving laws.
There’s No Legal Limit
For most controlled substances, there isn’t a legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit like there is for alcohol. With alcohol, if your blood alcohol level is over .08% in most states, you’re automatically a drunk driver under the law. For most prescription medicines, this isn’t the case. There’s no bright line test for what is considered drugged driving and what isn’t. Instead, it’s up to the jury to decide if the drugs influenced your driving on the day and time that you’re charged with drugged driving.
I’m Facing Drugged Driving Charges, What Can I Do?
If you’re facing drugged driving charges, a DUI lawyer can help you explore your options for your best defense. Whether the drugs influence your ability to drive is often a matter of opinion. It might seem obvious to the police, but the jury usually holds the police to a higher standard.
You may be able to testify and have other witnesses testify about your driving and physical state on the day of your arrest. You may also be able to employ the services of a medical expert in order to explain how the medicine works. Challenges on constitutional grounds are another possibility as you look at each angle of the case for your best defenses. If you’re facing a drugged driving charge, contact a DUI lawyer such as the DUI attorney DC locals turn to as soon as possible in order to begin defending yourself against the charges.
A special thanks to our Author at The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn P.C. for their insight into Criminal Law.