Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Investigative Article: A Deep Dive into Prescription Drug DUI Under Arizona Law

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offence that can have significant consequences. While alcohol is commonly associated with DUIs, prescription drugs can also lead to DUI charges. Prescription drugs can impair a driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely and can result in accidents, injuries, and even fatalities.

The Scope of Prescription Drug DUI

Driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a significant problem for law enforcement officials. A report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that more than 22% of drivers involved in accidents tested positive for drugs. 47% of tested drivers who died in crashes tested positive for prescription drugs.

In Arizona, prescription drug DUIs refer to drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs (including prescription medications) that render them incapable of safely operating a vehicle. The state has established definite standards for determining if someone is under the influence and for taking legal action against them.

Penalties for Prescription Drug DUI

A person caught driving under the influence of prescription drugs in Arizona will face strict penalties that depend on a few factors. The circumstances surrounding the DUI incident, the type and amount of the drug found in the driver's system, and the driver's previous criminal record can all influence the sentence.

For a first-time offence, a driver may face a minimum of ten days in jail, followed by a period of probation, fines, and community service. The sentence may increase to 90 days in jail, loss of driving privileges, and a permanent criminal record for second and subsequent convictions.

The long-lasting effects of such a conviction can extend beyond the initial sentence too. Being convicted of driving under the influence of prescription drugs can result in a loss of employment, driving privileges, and social standing. Such drivers may find it challenging to obtain rental or mortgage applications, and they may face a higher cost of insurance premiums, in addition to their legal penalties.

What is the Role of Drug Recognition Experts?

Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are law enforcement professionals who have received specialized training to identify drivers under the influence of drugs. They follow strict protocols to evaluate drivers arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of prescriptions. The DRE will check the individual's pulse rate, blood pressure, and examine their eyes' reaction to light. They may also ask questions about medication, medical conditions, and conduct a psychophysical examination.

The results of the tests, along with the officer's assessment, will be used to determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the driver was operating their vehicle in a state of impairment. However, it is important to note that drug recognition experts may not be 100% accurate all the time.

Defenses to Prescription Drug DUI Charge

While the penalties can be severe for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, there are strategies to defend the charges and protect your rights. For example, if the police did not follow proper procedures in stopping and arresting the driver, the defense attorneys can use this fact to get the charges dismissed.

Similarly, the defense can argue that the driver's medical condition, not the drugs, caused the impaired driving. If the driver was unaware of the side-effects of their prescription medication and they were operating the vehicle within the prescribed dosage levels, the defense can use this information to argue against the charges.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about prescription drug DUIs:

  • Can over-the-counter drugs lead to a Prescription Drug DUI?
  • Absolutely. Drugs like cough syrups and over-the-counter painkillers can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and affect the driver's concentration levels, vision and reaction times on the road.
  • What is Considered Proper Dosage for a Prescription Drug?
  • The dosage of prescription medication is set by the prescribing physician. Patients must follow the medical instructions precisely. Operating a motor vehicle while taking medications that cause drowsiness or impair your ability to operate the vehicle is illegal.
  • What is a Temporary Driver's License?
  • If your license is suspended, you may be able to obtain a temporary driving permit – a special license that allows you to drive to work, school, and medical appointments; provided you have proof of these activities.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you have been arrested for a prescription drug DUI in Arizona, it's important to consult a criminal defense attorney who can help you with your case. Our experienced lawyers at Kolsrud Law Offices are here to help. We are familiar with the state's drug DUI laws and will work diligently to defend your rights and protect your interests.

For more information on prescription drug DUIs or to schedule a free consultation, please visit our website