Prescription Drugs and DUI
In recent years, arrests have been on the rise for drivers suspected of being under the influence of prescription drugs. These arrests often involve people who are lawfully taking medications, which have no intoxicating effects on driving skills. Unfortunately, an arrest for an alleged drug-related DUI/DWI can have tremendous financial and personal consequences for the accused. Fortunately, there are many ways to fight this type of DUI charge.
In a prescription drug DUI investigation, the police will often utilize drug recognition evaluations (DREs) and blood or urine tests to try to prove the charge. These officers typically have little to no formal education concerning how drugs affect the human body. Moreover, the officer usually has no information concerning the driver’s medical history. At best, an officer has a checklist of symptoms he follows in order to come to a conclusion that the driver is impaired by drugs.
A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will be able to damage a police officer’s credibility on these points.
An expert in pharmacology is realistically the only suitable witness who can give an opinion about a driver’s intoxication due to prescription drugs. In order for a pharmacologist to render an opinion about a prescription drug DWI, a number of factors must be known. First, the expert must know the medical history of the driver.
This includes when a drug was prescribed, why it was prescribed, how often the driver takes the medication, and how long the driver has been taking the medication. Second, the expert must know when the last dose of the drug was taken. Third, the expert must know what behaviors were exhibited by the driver during the police investigation. Lastly, the expert needs to know what were the results of any blood or urine tests.
Any competent pharmacologist will agree that, without all of this information, it is difficult, if not impossible, to state that a driver was DWI.
Lab results alone do not tell an accurate tale of whether a driver was DUI. The mere presence of a prescription drug in a driver’s blood or urine only shows that the person took the drug sometime recently. In fact, if a person has been taking a prescription drug on a regular, prescribed basis, then the drug should be detected during a blood or urine test. Unusually high amounts of the drug in a driver’s system may show intoxication, but the prosecution needs to have an expert witness properly explain that the amount of the drug caused the driver to be DWI.
Finally, crime labs are not infallible. Mistakes in testing are made for a number of reasons.
Evidence samples can be improperly labeled. Preparation of evidence samples can be mishandled. Technicians running the tests may forget to do every step in the testing process, which would jeopardize the results. Misinterpretation of the testing results may occur as well.
Lawyers representing clients charged with prescription drug DUIs should have extensive training and experience concerning drug testing. These lawyers will know what type of information must be obtained from the lab and how to analyze that information in order to properly attack the government’s case.
Call Leckerman Law now to discuss how your case can be defended.