Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.
Interviewer: Let’s talk about prescription drugs. I’ve heard that people can even have DUI charges for prescription drugs. Can you give any examples of what kind of drugs you’ve seen that occurring for, and also are people treated differently when that’s the case versus illegal drugs?
Kevin Leckerman: I’ve seen many more prosecutions lately for DUI and prescription drugs. Perhaps, that has to do with the fact that more people are being prescribed drugs that have potential affect on driving behavior. Or it could just be that prosecutors and police departments are deciding to crack down more on people using prescription drugs. Either way, there is a difference between the illegal drug DUI and the prescription drug DUI cases.
For somebody who’s taking a prescription drug, just having that prescription drug in your system, does not equate to a conviction. The government would still have to show that prescription drug actually did affect someone’s ability to drive the vehicle.
You can create defenses that are different than with illegal drugs. For instance, if somebody had been using a prescription drug for a long period of time, and has become habituated to the drug, where the drug has reached what’s called a therapeutic level in the person’s system, then that certainly can be a defense. There are a number of other factors that you have to take into consideration.
First, you want to get the medical information for that person who has been treated by a medical doctor, and you want to get the prescription that the person had been given. You want to find out how long the person has been taking the prescription and the amount. How often the person has been taking the prescription and whether the person used the prescription that day is essential information; because, as we talked about previously, drugs can remain in your system for a number of days between the time that you actually used them and the time blood or urine was taken.