Can You Get A DUI On Prescribed Drugs?

The case of driving under the influence refers to the situation when somebody drives under the influence of any legal, prescribed or illegal drugs. When people hear the term "driving under the influence," the first thing that their minds deliver is the scenario in which somebody drinks and drives. Different drugs have different effects on the users, but those that impair judgment, alertness, concentration, or motor skills are considered as dangerous for driving. Many substances are included in the list of drugs which can impair the senses of the driver and result in DUI charges.

The definition of drugs under the California Vehicle Code Section 312 defines a drug as, "any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions." The drugs include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine and heroin, LSDs and many others. Some drugs present in the medicines also influence a person's ability to drive. Medical Marijuana, anti-depressants, valium, antihistamines, decongestants, sleeping pills, hydrocodone etc. include such drugs which are legal to use under certain conditions but their prescription does not help to counter the DUI charges.

The detection of drugs in drivers by the police is a tricky situation as the impacts of different drugs vary and need various tests. In case of alcohol, the BAC (Blood-Alcohol-Concentration) is tested and if measured above the legal limit of 0.08%, then DUI is charged. The cases with some other drugs are tricky to examine as the drug may be present in the driver's body system but does not affect the driver's abilities to drive. THC, the chemical present in marijuana, may be present in the bloodstream for four or five weeks after the day of consumption. Cocaine may be present in the blood for two days once it is taken. Though it may be present, it is not necessary that it influences the person's senses. For such cases, DREs "Drug Recognition Experts" test the drivers for various symptoms which prove that the driver is influenced. DREs are specially trained officers who test the person's abilities by closely observing the driver's eyes, movements and other cues to judge if the driver is drugged. They then do a blood or urine test to prove that the drug is present in the body of the driver.

The rules differ in some states for evaluation and dealing of driving under the influence cases. For example, In California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas and West Virginia, it is illegal for certain known drug addicts or habitual drug users to drive. In some states, it is illegal for a driver of any age to drive under the influence of drugs. The drugs include prescribed, legal and illegal drugs.

Some 10 million Americans drove under the influence of drugs the previous year. More than 18% fatally injured drivers were tested for drugs and the results came out to be positive. DUI charges can ruin lives but so can lethal accidents. If falsely accused, one can hire a lawyer for free to deal with such cases once they are charged for driving under the influence. It is highly advisable not to take the wheel after taking anti-depressants or similar medication. Accidents may cost you a lot and so can a DUI charge.

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