Prescription Drug Use and DUI Charges in Arizona
Prescription medications can produce an array of side effects. In some instances, they may lead to drowsiness and altered judgment that will make driving dangerous. How about the use of medications that the individual has a prescription for? Will such situation lead to DUI charges and what will the penalties be? Law is clear when it comes to prescription drug use and DUI charges in Arizona.
Legally Prescribed Medications can Lead to DUI Charges
Just because you have a prescription for a certain medication doesn’t mean you’re immune to DUI charges.
Driving under the influence refers to possibly being impaired while operating a vehicle. Thus, you need to be acquainted with the medicines you’re taking and their potential side effects. All of the medications that could lead to drowsiness or impaired judgment feature a warning pertaining to driving or operating vehicles after taking such pharmaceuticals.
The laws in Arizona do not provide exceptions for any driver on the road, regardless of the medical condition that they’re being treated for. If you get pulled over and certain medication is found in your system, chances are that you’ll be charged with DUI.
Some of the pharmaceuticals that could affect motor skills, alertness or your coordination include:
- Prescription pain killers
- A few generations of antihistamines
- Anxiety medicines
- Muscle relaxants
- Cough syrup and certain kinds of flu medications
- Any medicine that has drowsiness as a side effect
Penalties for Prescription Drug Use and DUI Charges in Arizona
The same penalties as for other DUIs will apply to the vehicle operators who have taken a prescription medication before getting in the car.
First-time offenders may face jail time, the completion of an awareness educational program, community service and a fine. For second and repeat offenders, the penalties will become more serious. A few additional sanctions on top of the ones already mentioned include license revocation and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
The legal framework for drunk drivers and people who have been unwise about the use of prescription medications is the same. The zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers will also be in effect when pharmaceuticals are involved.
Can Officers Detect Prescription Medications?
One question that many drivers could potentially have is whether police officers are capable of detecting prescription medications at all. The answer is a positive one.
Police officers know what signs of drowsiness and motor skills loss to look for. Based on their experience, they will observe the behavior of drivers who get pulled over.
If the officer suspects any impairment, they may order a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Some people will pass this test but they will still appear to be impaired. In such situations, the police officer will order a chemical test that can detect various types of pharmaceuticals in the blood.
Anyone who has taken a Xanax before getting in the car, for example, will be “outed” by the chemical test. The very same test is used for the detection of pharmaceutical products and for illegal drugs.
Individuals who refuse to take a chemical test face additional consequences. In such instances, a license revocation will usually apply.
Prescription Drug DUI Defense
Depending on the specifics of the situation, an experienced DUI attorney may choose a specific line of defense that’s bound to deliver the best results under the circumstances.
When prescription drug DUIs occur, the possible lines of defense include no probable cause for getting pulled over by the police, improperly performed tests, factors out of the control of the vehicle operator that have caused the impairment and insufficient evidence of an impairment on the road.
If the charges cannot be dismissed altogether, a lawyer will also know how to negotiate for the purpose of minimizing the sanctions.