Legal Medications Can Get You A DUI
Whenever people encounter the term “DUI” or driving under the influence, the first thing that readily enters their mind is “drunk driving.” While it’s true that most DUIs involve alcohol intoxication on the part of the driver, a DUI isn’t just about alcohol. You can get pulled over for a DUI for drugs and other substances as well. And we’re not just talking about illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin. Even legal medications for which you have a prescription can get you in trouble if you have them in your system while driving.
Why legal drugs can get you arrested for DUI
Most DUI laws revolve around the possible impairment of a driver’s ability to drive a vehicle safely. Alcohol and illicit drugs are known for their physical and psychological effects on a person. The same, however, applies to prescription drugs.
Most legal medications have side effects which could affect your coordination and motor skills, among other things. For this reason, DUI laws state that even legal drugs can be enough reason to book you for a DUI, even when you have a prescription for them, and you take only the prescribed dosage.
Which legal drugs are seen as sources of impairment?
Technically, any medication in your system is fair game for law enforcement. However, they wouldn’t be trying to find something as common as aspirin in your bloodstream. What they will be looking for are medications with active ingredients that could cause impairment, such as:
- Prescription painkillers
- Anxiety medication
- Muscle relaxants
- Cough syrup
- Nighttime cold or flu medicine
- Any drug that causes drowsiness or lightheadedness
The laws on DUI prescription drugs Arizona is implementing exempt no one. So if you’re taking Xanax, for example, Xanax DUI Arizona laws are going to apply to you if the cops pull you over and find out you have it in your system while driving.
Drivers caught with marijuana in their system may also DUI face charges. Now you may defend yourself by saying you have a prescription for medical marijuana. That, however, wouldn’t matter, because the effects of marijuana on the brain, nervous system, or muscles are quite known, and therefore fall under the coverage of most DUI laws.
Police can detect drug impairment
When a cop pulls you over on suspicion of DUI, the initial assumption is that you might be drunk. However, once it’s established that you don’t have alcohol in your system, the focus shifts to determining if you are under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal. For this, police have drug recognition experts or DREs, who are cops specially trained to pinpoint signs of drug impairment through the driver’s behavior, eye movements, speech, and other cues.
The “Per Se” laws in Arizona
In Arizona, anyone can be charged with a DUI for drugged driving by virtue of its “per se” laws. As long as authorities establish that your system has any detectable trace of legal or illegal drugs in it, you can be charged with a DUI.
Medications-related DUI Penalties in Arizona
The penalties for an alcohol DUI and a DUI on prescription medication in Arizona are basically the same. The following are the penalties for drugged driving in the state:
- $1,800 fine
- Jail sentence of 10 to 180 days
- Possible 90-day driver’s license suspension
- Community service
- Probation of up to five years
- Join substance screening and education programs
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock device for one year
- Jail for 90 to 180 days
- About $3,500 in fines
- 1-year driver’s license revocation
- Probation for up to five years
- Minimum of 30 hours of community service
- Substance abuse evaluation and education
- Use of Ignition Interlock Device for one year
- At least four months in prison
- Fines of up to $150,000
- Five-year probation
- Use of Ignition Interlock device for one year
- 3-year license revocation
- Seizure of vehicle
If the third offense was committed within seven years of a prior DUI or driving with a suspended license, the driver will be charged with a Class Four felony, which carries more severe consequences.
Compared to alcohol intoxication, establishing the level of impairment at any given time due to legal medications is so much trickier to determine and prove. So if you ever find yourself charged with violating the prescription drug DUI laws Arizona is enforcing, you can count on the skilled and experienced DUI attorneys of the Arizona DUI Team. Contact them now, and you can help them prepare an effective defense for your case.