DUI and related offenses, despite what many people believe, do not only involve alcohol. In reality, many individuals are stopped by the police and arrested or charged with the crime of DUI without drinking a single alcoholic beverage. People are often arrested, and convicted, of Driving Under the Influence for having drugs in their system. This does not just include illegal drugs. When a person is involved in an accident, the doctors prescribe painkillers such as Darvocet, Percocet, OxyContin or Hydrocodone to minimize the painful effects of the accident. These are highly effective painkillers and they help the person involved in the accident to perform day-to-day activities which would otherwise be impossible due to the pain inflicted by the accident. Some patients, after a period of time, start depending on these drugs to lead a normal life as the pain becomes unbearable if the drug is not taken.
Such patients are often referred to other types of treatments such as meditation, yoga or massages. Unfortunately, in most cases, these treatments do not make much difference and the patients take to other means of obtaining the drugs as the doctors eventually stop providing the prescriptions to those patients. The patients then tend to get drugs through illegal means by making fake prescriptions or using another person's prescription. This may seem like a very trivial crime but if caught, the consequences may be more painful than the accident itself. Unlike DUI charges for alcohol or illegal drugs, there is no measurable statutory minimum threshold of a prescription medication that is allowable before a person is presumed to be under the influence. What this means is that a person can be accused, arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence. Many people have been convicted of this serious crime when having slightest amount of prescribed substance in their system while driving.
One of the fastest growing, types of DUI charge involves a situation where someone is accused of driving under the influence of prescription drugs or painkillers. If someone is caught buying or possessing a painkiller without prescription, he/she may be charged for a number of crimes. They may be charged for possession of a controlled substance without a prescription or for obtaining such a substance by fraud. The worst case scenario is when a certain person is found possessing bigger amounts of the drugs; it may imply that they are involved in "drug dealing" or "trafficking." The consequences are far harsher than one thinks if it comes to drug dealing. The suspect is detained by the police and may face charges in the form of jail time, probation, court costs, counseling, community service hours or fines. The jail time ranges from 3 to 25 years. If one has a criminal record, it may worsen the situation and often leads to the suspect losing their job.
There are many types of prescriptions medications, including those that are commonly prescribed by doctors for many different reasons, which are believed to cause a driver to be “under the influence.” The most commonly prescribed medications which lead to DUI arrests and charges are what are known as “narcotic analgesics.” The medications are very commonly prescribed as “painkillers” for many different scenarios, including simple back injuries, dental procedures or automobile accidents. While some individuals abuse these drugs and use them for recreational purposes, or to get “high.” Some of the wide spread narcotic analgesics prescribed by doctors that lead to DUI charges are: Morphine Demoral, Oxycontin, Codeine, Lortab, Lorcet, Hydrocodone and Percocet. While they are commonly among the most common source of Prescription Drug DUI charges, “painkillers” are not the only medications which can give rise to DUI arrests or charges.
In recent years, there has been a large increase in prescriptions, thereby leading to an increase in incidents of DUI charges related to painkillers or “sedative-hypnotics” which are more commonly referred to by the general term “sleeping pills” and include the very popularly prescribed drugs Lunestra and Ambien. These pills are widely advertised on television and are typically prescribed for individuals who express to their health care provider symptoms of insomnia, or the inability to sleep. These prescription drugs “depress” or slow down typical bodily functions, making the driver exhibit signs of “sleepiness or drowsiness” resulting in “impaired” driving. In many documented cases, people taking these medications have experienced “sleep driving” and have driven cars while being completely unaware they are driving and in actual physical control of the vehicle.
This is a serious offense and the police may bring in specially-trained Drug Recognition Evaluators who use a multi-step program to test whether or not a driver was impaired by drugs. If a DRE is called in, they will look for signs of drug use like injection marks. They will take a close look at the pupils of your eyes, blood pressure and pulse rate, and they will ask you questions about possible drug use. They may also conduct their own field sobriety test. What many people do not realize is that it is much more challenging to measure drug impairment than it is to measure alcohol impairment. One reason for this is that technology is not as advanced for drug testing as it is for alcohol testing. Another reason is that drugs cover such a broad spectrum of substances and there is no clear standard for how much it takes of each type of substance to intoxicate someone. Prosecutors often bring DREs into court to testify in drug-related DUI cases. The problem with the DRE process is that the observations of a drug recognition expert can end up being highly subjective.
If it is the first drug offense, you may be able to get your charges dropped after completing the requirements such as community service hours, classes or counseling. You should know your rights and you can always hire an attorney to help you deal with such cases especially if a small amount of drug has pushed you into a gruesome situation where you are accused of trafficking. Drug Defense Lawyers have expertise in this field and may be of great help to reduce the charges or jail time. If the matter is very serious, it is advisable to talk to an attorney as soon as possible as there are many solid defenses that can be used by the defendant to prove themselves as not guilty. Drug Courts are small courts which mostly issue the charges in the form of participation in a treatment program. The charges are dropped once the program is completed. It is important to know that you have the right to hire an attorney in every case and it is even more important to know that if you obtain a drug illegally, it is an offense of law and you will be subject to criminal charges.