Some people are familiar with drug related DUI offenses including DUI as a result of the use of marijunana or even a narcotic. There is not, however, much law on prescription drug DUI. This is an inherently contentious area because of the intentionality factor. It is also less straightforward than alcohol related DUI cases because when a prescription drug is taken by the person for which the drug is prescribed, it is not an illegal act. The variables at play in this instance can vary widely depending on the specific case and the applicable laws and policies.
What is Prescription Drug DUI?
In some states, including Mississippi, you cannot operate a motor vehicle if you have a certain amount of a controlled substance in your blood. Most people think of alcohol in the DUI context. However, a controlled substance can include lawfully or unlawfully obtained prescription drugs or even over-the-counter drugs. However, unlike alcohol, for which law enforcement can test a defendant's blood, there is no roadside test for pharmaceuticals. Instead, one can be arrested and charged with a DUI if the officer has probable cause to believe that the substance has created an impairment so much so that the individual is unable to operate a motor vehicle.
The applicable law for prescription drug DUI is the same law covering alcohol related DUI crimes. Mississippi law forbids a person from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater (0.04% or more if the driver was operating a commercial vehicle). The penalties for prescription drug DUI is not dissimilar to those applicable to the alcohol related DUI crime. As a first-time offender, the defendant is subject to $250 to $1,000 in fines, up to two days in jail, enrollment in Mississippi's Alcohol Education Program, 120 days of a suspended driver's license, and any other condition handed down by the judge.
What are Some Defenses?
Prescription drug DUI defenses can come in two forms. There are the ones that are similar to the defenses in alcohol-related DUI cases. For instance, the defendant can challenge the search and seizure procedures used by the arresting officer. This can also include a challenge to the probable cause or reasonable suspicion factors that the officer claims were present in the case. Another defense can come from a lack of knowledge that the medication would result in an inebriating effect. Here, the defendant can argue that the medication was indeed the cause of their inebriation. However, they did not appreciate the side effects of the drug and that it could cause inebriation. This is an especially convincing defense if the drug is not historically known to cause inebriation.
Let Us Help with Your DUI Case
Attorney James Robert Ferguson can answer your DUI-related questions. He is a seasoned defense attorney with years of experience fighting drug and alcohol DUI cases. He understands that the stakes are high and the importance of putting the DUI charge behind you. That is why he provides aggressive legal representation for individuals just like you. Call us now for a consultation.