Driving While Impaired – Prescription Drugs

Many people take doctor prescribed medications every day.  And they drive. What is disturbing is that more and more drivers are charged every day for driving under the influence of drugs. But these are not illicit street drugs—just doctor prescribed medication.

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Even if you claim that you are taking lawfully prescribed medication, an officer may arrest you if he believes that your driving is impaired.  At that point you may have to submit to a blood or urine test. If the test returns positive, then the State of Maryland may prosecute you for a DUID. Your DUI attorney will argue in your defense whether the medications taken affected your ability to drive. The apparent presence of medications in your chemical tests, does not necessarily mean that you were impaired and an unsafe driver.  The prosecutors will bring forth the officer’s testimony of your appearance, blood-shot, watery eyes and raspy voice, for example.  These symptoms appear as side effects of a number of medications or severe illness.  A person suffering from hay fever or other allergic conditions also commonly display these symptoms.  It does not mean that the person was on DRUGS or that his or her driving was impaired.

And what we are talking about here is prescription medication prescribed by a doctor.  Innocent people are being prosecuted for just that – driving after having taken medication.  Many pain-killers, cough medicines and allergy pills that are prescribed do not impair a driver. It also depends on the person’s body size and resistance to side effects.  Based on the officer’s observations of what he perceives to be symptoms of impairment, the case is taken to court. Most officers are not even properly trained in drug recognition.  It would take a Drug Recognition Expert, DRE to come to the scene and examine you to determine if you were fit to drive.

In most cases, a blood or urine test will be used to detect drugs in your bloodstream. Because there is no way to measure the exact amount the test finds, it is ultimately left up to law enforcement to decide whether you should be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

If you are charged with DUI, you will face a number of harsh penalties—including a fine, license suspension, and jail sentence.

The Attorneys at Alpert Schreyer will conduct a two-tier analysis of your case. First we will question whether your constitutional rights were violated at the time of arrest and whether the police had a valid reason for stopping your car.  We will find out about whether a DRE was called to the scene to examine your condition. We will challenge what expertise the officer had in determining impairment and if the officer looked for physical signs such as abnormal pulse rate or abnormal pupil dilation. Your attorney will obtain evidence, such as the pharmacology of the prescription drug, showing that your driving was not impaired, and possibly present other causes of impairment.

The second step in the analysis is to investigate the validity of the scientific evidence.   Our attorneys will conduct an investigation into whether the blood or urine sample was accurately measured by the police. Due to improper use, sample contamination, or negligent laboratory procedures, the results may be proven to be unreliable.  We will question the chain of custody and the handling of the sample.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, contact the attorneys at Alpert Schreyer today. Call (866) 444-6363 or fill out our online form to receive a confidential evaluation of your case by an experienced legal professional.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.