DUI and Prescription Drugs
We all know that a drive can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Did you know that a person can also be arrested for DUI if their normal faculties were impaired by a prescription medication?
Despite how common it is for individuals of all ages to use some sort of legally prescribed medication, officers might use that knowledge to make a false allegation that a person was impaired by that prescription drug. These allegations are particularly common when the person has also consumed an alcoholic beverage.
Despite the initial fear and confusion after an arrest, many of these cases are much more difficult to prosecute than traditional DUI charges stemming from alcohol or illegal drug use.
Attorneys for Prescription Drug DUI in Tallahassee, FL
Were you recently charged with DUI in Tallahassee, Leon County, or Northern Florida because you were allegedly driving under the influence of a prescription drug? Make sure that you are represented in court by an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with these types of cases.
Pumphrey Law aggressively defends clients in Tallahassee and all over Leon County against these charges. Our firm also serves surrounding communities including Monticello, Chattahoochee, Quincy, Perry, and Blountstown. We can provide a complete evaluation of your case to help you understand your legal options during a free, confidential consultation. Call (850) 681-7777 today.
Prescription Drug DUI Information Center
- What kinds of medication might result in these charges?
- How might a person be punished if he or she is convicted of this offense?
- Does an alleged offender have any defenses in these cases?
Under Florida Statute § 316.193, a person may be charged with the "prescription drug" version DUI for driving while under the influence of any drug that impairs his or her normal faculties. Florida Statute § 327.354(1) states that normal faculties “include, but are not limited to, the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, normally perform the many mental and physical acts of daily life.”
When police officers record observations of motorists they claim were operating while under the influence, they often use commonly cited symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or delayed reaction time. In some cases, Florida will rely on the observations of drug recognition experts (DREs), which are law enforcement officers who have completed Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) training in the Drug Influence Evaluation (DIE) exercises and detecting drug-related impairment.
Some of the legal prescription drugs that are most commonly involved in these types of DUI arrests include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Chlorpheniramine and Hydrocodone (Tussionex®)
- Clonazepam (Klonopin®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Dextromethorphan (DXM)
- Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (Lortab®, Lorcet®, Vicodin®)
- Lorazepam (Ativan®)
- Lorcet or Lortab® (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen)
- Lunesta® (Eszopiclone)
- Meperidine (Demerol®)
- Methadone (Symoron, Dolophine, Amidone, Methadose, Physeptone, Heptadon)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
- Zaleplon (Sonata®, Starnoc®, and Andante®)
- Zolpidem (Ambien®)
While some people might believe that a court will show mercy in regards to any punishment associated with pleading guilty to DUI involving a legally prescribed medication rather than alcohol, the truth is that the possible consequences remain every bit as severe. The sentence a person receives depends on whether he or she has any previous convictions for this offense:
- First DUI — Second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail, fine of up to $1,000, driver’s license suspended for up to one year.
- Second DUI — First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail, fine of up to $2,000, driver’s license suspended for up to five years.
- Third DUI More Than 10 Years After Prior Conviction — First-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, fine of up to $2,500, driver’s license suspended for up to five years.
- Felony DUI for a Third Conviction Within 10 Years of Prior Conviction — Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, fine of up to $5,000, driver’s license revoked for 10 years.
- Fourth or Subsequent DUI — Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, fine of up to $5,000, driver’s license permanently revoked.
The type of evidence and how it was collected can be challenged in court. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress or exclude this evidence so that the prosecutor is not allowed to mention it during the trial.
While prosecutors can feel comfortable pursuing DUI charges in cases where a driver was shown to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, blood samples from drivers that test positive for prescription drugs are not always incriminating.
A few of the flaws in these types of cases that can be used as defenses include, but are not limited to:
- Alleged offender suffered adverse drug reaction;
- Alleged offender used properly diagnosed amount of legal medication;
- Alleged offender was not under influence of the drug at the time he or she was driving;
- Alleged symptoms of intoxication were not drug-related;
- Illegal search of alleged offender’s vehicle;
- Illegal stop of vehicle;
- Improperly administered field sobriety or chemical tests; or
- Lack of evidence.
Find A DUI and Prescription Drugs Lawyer in Tallahassee
If you were arrested for DUI involving prescription drugs in Tallahassee or Leon County in Northern Florida, you need to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Pumphrey Law aggressively defends clients against all sorts of drugged driving offenses in state court.
Our firm helps residents of Tallahassee and the greater Leon County area as well as nearby communities in Jefferson County, Gadsden County, Taylor County, and Calhoun County. Call (850) 681-7777 right now to let us review your case during a free legal consultation.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.
Attorney Don Pumphrey Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney.