Driving under the influence is a serious offense that can lead to devastating consequences. While most people think of DUI as being related to alcohol, it can also apply to controlled substances. A controlled substance DUI occurs when a driver is under the influence of drugs, whether they are prescription or illegal drugs.
Our team of experienced DUI attorneys has put this up to cover everything you need to know about controlled substance DUIs, including the types of drugs that can lead to charges, how police detect drug use, and the penalties you may face if you are charged with this offense.
What is a Controlled Substance DUI?
A controlled substance DUI occurs when a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications and illegal substances. Even if the driver has a valid prescription for the medication, they can still be charged with a DUI if they are impaired by the drug. In some cases, a driver may also face criminal charges for possessing controlled substances in their vehicle.
It is reported that an average of 29 people lose their lives each day due to crashes involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. This statistic underscores the critical need to address the issue of drunk driving in the United States. But the issue of driving under the influence of drugs is just as serious and can lead to similarly devastating consequences, both in terms of physical harm and legal repercussions.
Factors to Consider When Charged With a Controlled Substance DUI
If you are charged with a controlled substance DUI, there are several factors that will be taken into consideration when determining the severity of the offense. These factors may include the type of drug involved, the amount of the drug in the driver's system, and any prior DUI offenses on their record. In addition, the presence of other drugs in the driver's system, as well as any medical conditions that could impact their ability to drive, may also be taken into account.
Types of Drugs Considered for a DUI Charge
There are many different types of drugs that can lead to a DUI charge, including prescription medications and illegal substances. Some common examples of drugs that may lead to a DUI charge include opioids, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and marijuana.
Commonly Abused Drugs in the US
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some of the most commonly abused drugs in the US include marijuana, prescription opioids, and cocaine. These drugs can have a significant impact on a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Illegal Drugs and Their Effects on Driving
Illegal drugs can have a wide range of effects on a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. For example, marijuana can impair coordination and perception, while cocaine can lead to aggression and reckless driving. In addition, some drugs may cause drowsiness or slow reaction times, which can increase the risk of an accident.
How Do Police Detect Drug Use?
Law enforcement officers use a variety of methods to detect drug use in drivers. These methods may include field sobriety tests, chemical tests (such as blood or urine tests), and drug recognition expert (DRE) assessments.
Drug Recognition Experts (DREs)
Drug recognition experts (DREs) are specially trained law enforcement officers who are trained to detect signs of drug impairment in drivers. DREs may use a variety of assessment techniques to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs, including checking the driver's vital signs, examining their pupils, and administering a series of tests designed to detect impairment.
Drug Assessment Tests
Drug assessment tests may also be used to detect drug use in drivers. These tests may include blood or urine tests, as well as assessments of the driver's behavior and appearance.
All Potential Signs of Drug Use
There are many different signs that can indicate drug use in drivers, including slurred speech, impaired coordination, and impaired judgment. Other signs may include dilated pupils, erratic driving behavior, and the presence of drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.
Penalties for a DUI Charge Involving Drugs
If you are charged with a DUI involving drugs, you may face a wide range of penalties. These penalties may include fines, jail time, and the suspension or revocation of your driver's license. In addition, you may be required to complete a drug rehabilitation program and attend Alcohol Highway Safety School. The specific penalties you may face will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the offense and any prior DUI offenses on your record.
Motor Vehicle Charges and Penalties
In addition to the criminal charges associated with a controlled substance DUI, you may also face motor vehicle charges and penalties. For example, you may be required to pay fines or have your vehicle impounded. In some cases, your professional license or commercial driver's license (CDL) may also be suspended or revoked.
Possible Sentencing Outcomes
The possible sentencing outcomes for a controlled substance DUI can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the offense. For example, first-time offenders may face fines and probation, while repeat offenders may be sentenced to months or even years in jail.
In addition, the use of certain drugs may lead to more severe penalties, particularly if the drug is considered a "hard" drug or if the driver was found to be under the influence of multiple drugs.
Prescription Medications or Medical Conditions
If you have a valid prescription for a medication that may impact your ability to drive you can still receive a DUI, it is important to disclose this information to law enforcement officers if you are stopped while driving. In some cases, a medical condition may also impact your ability to drive safely.
However, it is important to note that having a valid prescription or medical condition does not necessarily mean that you cannot be charged with a controlled substance DUI if you are found to be impaired.
Legal Defenses to a Controlled Substance DUI Charge
There are several legal defenses that may be used to fight a controlled substance DUI charge. For example, it may be possible to argue that the driver was not actually under the influence of drugs, or that the police did not have sufficient grounds to conduct a search warrant or issue a citation.
Also, it may be possible to argue that certain drugs were in the driver's system due to medication or a medical condition.
Finally, it is also important to remember that any chemical tests used by law enforcement officers must have been conducted properly in order for the results to be admissible in court.
Call an Experienced DUI Attorney Today!
Controlled substance DUI is a serious offense that can have significant consequences. If you are charged with a controlled substance DUI, it is important to seek legal assistance from experienced DUI lawyers who can help you navigate the legal system and fight the charges against you.
At DUI Lawyers 24/7, we have a team of skilled attorneys who are experienced in handling these sorts of cases. We understand the complexities of DUI law and can help you build a strong defense against the charges you are facing. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you protect your rights and your future.