A relatively common question that criminal defense attorneys hear is, “Can someone get a DUI while taking prescription medications?” The answer is, yes. Under the California Department of Motor Vehicles Vehicle Code, Section 23152, it is unlawful for any individual to drive a vehicle while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, or under the combined influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs. This includes drugs that are legally prescribed to the operator of a vehicle.
Most people think that drugs mean marijuana or some other type of illicit drug. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The taking of a lawfully prescribed medication can impair thinking and reaction times, resulting in individuals being charged with a DUI in California.
Some of the most common prescription medications that lead to a DUI arrest are Vicodin, Demerol, Dolophine and Oxycontin. These are narcotic analgesics used to relieve pain. Vicodin or Hydrocodone is one of the most universally prescribed pain killers. However, this and other prescription medications prescribed for pain management come with warnings advising that taking the medication can cause impaired thinking, decreased reflexes and decreased reaction times, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. The warnings also advise of the dangers of mixing the medication with other drugs or alcohol.
Remember, simply having a valid prescription for Vicodin, or any other prescription medication, will not be enough to get the charges dismissed or suffice as a defense to the DUI charge.
California police officers are trained to look for certain signs and symptoms exhibited by individuals taking drugs, such a Vicodin. Some of those are constricted pupils, drowsiness, droopy eyelids and slowed vital signs.
Just as in any other DUI case, the prosecutor’s case will largely depend upon the arresting officer, blood and urine testing and the Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE).sA DRE is a specially trained officer who has successfully taken the California Highway Patrol CHP) Drug Recognition Program and is certified in identifying and prosecuting drug impaired individuals.
The penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription medications are the same as any other DUI. If it is a first time offender case, which accounts for the vast majority of DUI cases, the charge is a misdemeanor. The penalties will be a fine of approximately $1,500, several months driver’s license suspension and a court ordered attendance in an approved California DUI school. Rarely is there any jail time given for first time offenders, unless there are aggravating circumstances at the time of the arrest.
If you have been charged with a DUI while taking prescription medications you need to talk to an experienced DUI California criminal defense attorney immediately.
California criminal defense attorney Ronald N. Hoffman, with the law firm of Hoffman & Associates, has been helping clients in the Los Angeles and San Diego area since 1976. He can help you with your DUI while taking prescription medications by attacking the police procedures, possible contamination of blood or urine samples and producing testimony that the amount of prescription medication being taken was within the proper therapeutic range.
Contact us through our website or call us direct at (323) 655-3900 to schedule a confidential, no obligation consultation.
Related Blog Posts:
Can I get Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?, Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog, December 4, 2012
Should I Act Quickly to Hire a Los Angeles DUI Attorney after my Arrest?, Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog, November 28, 2012