Prescription Drugs & DUI

Every motorist is aware that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal behavior and can be accurately measured in the blood stream with the proper analysis equipment. Many individuals do not realize that a prescription medicine can also create significant impairment of driving abilities and all states have taken steps to stop this behavior. The problem is that many people are under treatment of a medical professional who has placed them on the medication. Additionally, these medications can also remain in the blood stream in latent levels and can often be detected in any situation regardless of the active status of the medication while driving.

Refusing a Blood Test

Some states such as Florida make no special designation for driving under influence of prescription drugs, which they legally term as controlled substances in the statutes. Suspects can refuse a blood analysis, but it will result in an extra charge and automatic suspension of driving privileges. Anyone arrested for driving under the influence in Florida will be issued a temporary ten-day license while awaiting a suspension hearing within the temporary license period. All DUI convictions will result in a license suspension of some time period. Most states are implied consent states, which means that consent to testing is implied for anyone who holds a valid license.

Admissible Evidence

All evidence in an impaired driving case is not necessarily sufficient for a conviction. The results of a field sobriety test usually only establish reasonable suspicion for the officer to proceed to investigate for probable cause. Probable cause for driving under the influence will require some form of acceptable measured intoxication evidence to assure a conviction. Drivers who fail a field sobriety test and pass an acceptable alcohol measurement test cannot be convicted and are deemed to have gotten a “bad” arrest. A breathalyzer test in a field sobriety test is not admissible, but the actual recording at the police station is done with an acceptable device. Refusing a field sobriety test is not chargeable, but refusing a valid test while in custody results in charged refusal.

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Request of Warrants

Police officers who think they have a good arrest even though the suspect tests sober can request a blood evaluation, but the United States Supreme Court ruled recently that officers cannot take a suspect directly to a medical testing facility and demand compliance to blood testing. This is important for patients prescribed a medical regimen that may produce a positive result in any case regardless of the activity level of the substance in the blood stream. Dissipation of evidence is not sufficient for expedition and amounts to an invasive illegal search. The defendant can also refuse the test with impunity. It is mandatory for the officer to request and receive a warrant from a district judge. The local prosecutor is not authorized for approval and the officer can only hold a suspect for two hours when probable cause cannot be established.

This situation can occur for anyone who is prescribed a continual medication and passes an alcohol evaluation. Subsequent refusals after a warrant is issued can result in additional suspensions for refusal and can be addressed in the suspension hearing. In a state such as Florida, it is always a good idea to have an effective legal representative that is knowledgeable of the patient’s condition because this situation could arise in the event of any accident. As one Hillsborough County DUI Lawyer states it, though drug DUI’s are harder to prosecute, they can be harder to defend against as well. Always remember that individuals found guilty of driving under the influence of controlled substances without medical authorization can be charged with additional possession charges.

Anthony Joseph is an author who chooses to write about subjects like this one, and hopes to help make a difference in these issues. Hillsborough County DUI Lawyer James D. Phillips is an experienced trial attorney, and a founding member of the Katz & Phillips law firm. He’s also a published writer in the area of DUI, as well as Criminal defense and has written a number of training manuals on DUI defense.

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