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Driving while on certain prescription drugs should be avoided

Posted by Craig Penrod | Feb 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Can a person be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) from their prescription medication? The answer is a resounding yes. Arizona law provides an extensive list of drugs for which you can be charged with a DUI if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of one of those drugs.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

A person could be arrested for a DUI in the state of Arizona if they operate a vehicle after consuming a prescription drug, a combination of prescription drugs, a combination of a prescription drug and alcohol, a combination of a prescription drug and recreational drugs and a combination of a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medication.

A law enforcement officer can pull you over if there is probable cause to suspect that you are DUI of a substance that may be alcohol or drugs. Probable cause can be driving erratically, swerving between lanes, hitting parked cars, not maintaining speed, speeding, or driving on the wrong side of the road.

After the law enforcement officer pulls you over, they will evaluate your behavior and may ask you to perform a field sobriety test to determine whether or not you will be charged with DUI. You are not required to comply with a request to perform a field sobriety test (FST) or drug recognition exam (DRE).

The officer will request that you provide a blood or urine sample, which will be used for a toxicology test if you are arrested for DUI. You must submit to this request or you will have your license suspended for a year, even if your test results show no drugs or alcohol in your system. The most common drugs associated with prescription drug DUI are anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids.

When a person is charged with DUI, they are almost always charged with two separate DUI offenses. The state of Arizona uses this strategy because if they unable to get a guilty verdict on one charge, there is still an opportunity for a conviction on the other charge.

In a DUI case where law enforcement officers think you are under the influence of alcohol, most of the time a person will be charged with being impaired to operate a motor vehicle at least to the slightest degree and also with having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a certain amount, either 0.08 percent, 0.15 percent or 0.20 percent.

The approach is similar in a case where law enforcement officers allege that a person is impaired by drugs. The suspect will be charged with driving while impaired to the slightest degree, as well as driving with the presence of a drug or its metabolite or waste product in their blood. But, if a person ever finds themselves charged with DUI related to the use of drugs, having been issued a prescription for the drugs may provide a defense to the DUI drug charge. Possession of a prescription for the drugs is not a defense to the impairment charge.

If a person is directed by a doctor take a medication that could cause side effects that have the potential to affect their driving, caution while operating a vehicle is very important. If a person is pulled over by law enforcement, they should protect themselves by contacting an experienced DUI lawyer who may be able to show the prosecutor that your conduct was not criminal.

If you are taking a prescription medication, be mindful of all warning labels that caution you that the drug could cause fatigue or affect your ability to operate machinery. You should not drive until you know how a new medication affects you and interacts with your other prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and other substances you are taking. Arizona law is concerned with preventing impaired driving due to any drug or alcohol; therefore, it is possible to get a DUI even if you had a legal, valid prescription and you were taking your medication as prescribed.

If you have been arrested for prescription drug DUI, you will need an experienced DUI attorney to assist you with your case. There are many arguments an attorney can use to defend you, such as:

  • The urine or blood sample was tainted or mishandled,
  • The machine used for the toxicology test was not properly maintained,
  • The drug test was not properly administrated, and/or
  • There was no probable cause for pulling you over.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

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