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Is Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs Illegal?

Many people associate a DUI charge with alcohol, but don’t realize that illegal and prescription drugs can also impair drivers. Florida law allows a person under the influence of drugs to be charged with a DUI, if they show signs of impairment. These cases can be complex and difficult to prosecute, but they carry the same consequences as an alcohol-related DUI.

Prescription drugs can affect your ability to drive, leading to dangerous driving and the possibility of a DUI charge. Side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, fainting, or slowed movement can hinder your ability to make safe choices and react quickly while driving. Many drugs involved in DUI charges are Narcotic Analgesics (painkillers) and Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, which are used to treat disorders such as anxiety and convulsions. These drugs may include:

  • Ambien
  • Lunesta
  • Vicodin, Lortab, or Lorcet (hydrocondone)
  • Percocet or Oxycontin (oxycodone)
  • Codeine
  • Fenatryl
  • Morphine
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin

These medications may affect your functioning and impair your driving. Consult your doctor about the safety of driving while taking these medications, and learn if you have other options.

Penalties for Drugged Driving

The penalties for drugged driving as the same as drunk driving, though it can be more difficult to prove drugged driving. Blood or urine tests may be required to prove that drugs were present in your system, but the effects of drugs can be challenging to prove. Tolerance and the side effects of medications can vary between drivers.

Penalties for drugged driving include the standard DUI penalties, including:

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to 1 year of probation
  • Fines between $500 and $1,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 1 year
  • 50 hours of community service
  • DUI school
  • Victim Awareness Program participation
  • Vehicle impoundment for 10 days

If you are convicted of drugged driving, you also will face automatic suspension of their driver’s license for 2 years. Because prescription drugs can be addictive and easily abused, those under the influence of illegally obtained prescription medication can face charges of illegal possession as well.

Defending Drugged Driving Charges

In drugged driving cases, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were under the influence of prescription medication when you were charged with a DUI. Blood tests are unreliable, which can make proving the charges extremely difficult.

Several factors affect the accuracy of the blood test, which can make it inadmissible as evidence in a DUI case. One of the main factors is that the blood test is not taken at the time of arrest. The level of the prescription drugs in your blood stream cannot be measured when you are arrested. As prescription drugs can remain in the body for several days, it can be difficult to prove the drugs were impairing you at the time of your arrest. It also can be impossible to establish the effects of different concentrations of drugs in individuals. Proving that you were under the influence of prescription drugs can be exceedingly difficult for the prosecution, and a knowledgeable DUI lawyer can help you defeat your charges.

If you have been accused of a DUI while taking prescription medication, contact an Orlando DUI attorney immediately. You need experienced, aggressive legal defense for your drugged driving charges. Our team at The Wiseman Law Firm has over 15 years of experience defending cases like yours. We are dedicated to providing you with top-notch client service and developing your best defense strategy to help you fight your charges. We are available 24/7 to answer your questions and start your case.

Contact The Wiseman Law Firm today to learn more about how we can help you or schedule a free case evaluation.

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