When most people think of DUI charges, they think a driver has been accused of drinking too much before getting behind the wheel. But the use of other substances can also result in charges – including prescription drugs.
Drugged driving cases can involve the use of opioids, anxiety drugs, anti-seizure drugs, anti-psychotics, antidepressants, allergy medications, muscle relaxants, and other drugs.
A police officer may suspect the use of drugs at a traffic stop if they believe your “normal faculties” seem impaired. “Normal faculties” typically means the ability to see, hear, walk, judge distances, make judgments, and drive a car.
How police gather evidence
Having a valid prescription for a drug won’t prevent you from being arrested and charged if a police officer thinks you are impaired. In addition, as a prosecutor will note, prescription drugs have warning labels that caution against operating a motor vehicle after taking the medication.
But while you can face DUI charges after taking prescription drugs, it can be difficult for police to prove that you were impaired.
If a person gives a urine sample to the police, the results of the lab analysis only show that a non-active metabolite was in the driver's system. That means the drug was not affecting the driver's brain. That means the drug found in the sample was not impairing or affecting the driver's brain or mental faculties and could have been in the driver's system for weeks. For example, in a driving under the influence of cannabis case, Delta-9 THC causes impairment, but 11-nor-carboxy-THC does not because it has already been metabolized by the human body and this is the drug usually found in an analyzed sample.
Police can use a breathalyzer to measure blood alcohol content – a reading of .08 or higher is considered to be evidence of impairment. But a breathalyzer isn’t useful if an officer suspects the use of drugs.
First, an officer will ask you to take a field sobriety test. This involves the walk and turn, standing on one leg, and checking your eyes for involuntary movement. The officer can also ask for a blood or urine test in certain circumstances – for example, if someone was injured in a crash.
The consequences of a conviction
A DUI charge in Florida is very serious. If convicted, you could be facing the suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and possibly even jail time. In addition, a conviction becomes part of your record for 75 years. It can affect your reputation and possibly even your ability to get a job if it involves driving.
That’s why you need an experienced Florida DUI lawyer on your side if you’ve been arrested and charged. Attorney Thomas C. Grajek can help.
Our firm can investigate your arrest to get the facts and start working on a defense. Potential defense for a prescription drug DUI may involve challenging the evidence or pointing out investigative errors made by police.
Get Grajek on your side
It’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible following your arrest. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you’ll be issued a summons to appear in court. Your license will be suspended by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
We can help you fight your license suspension and the charges you are facing. Prescription drug DUI charges are difficult to prove, and the prosecution may not have enough evidence to convict. However, we may be able to help you get your charges dropped or at least reduced.
And if the prosecutor wants to take your case to court, attorney Grajek will be ready to fight for you. He is comfortable in the courtroom and knows how to build a strong defense that gets results.
If you are facing DUI charges in Polk, Hillsborough, or Pasco County, don’t delay. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Your future is at stake.