When most people think of a DUI or DWI, they think of someone behind the wheel of a vehicle that is under the influence of alcohol. While a majority of DUI charges in the state of Florida are for drunk driving, you can in fact still be arrested and charged with DUI if you are under the influence of a prescription drug or an illegal substance. If you or a loved one were charged with DUI for a prescription drug, a Palm Beach DUI attorney at The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky can thoroughly investigate your arrest and build a strong defense against the charges based on the facts of the case.
How Do Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs Cause Impaired Driving?
While you may have never thought twice about it, common over-the-counter pain medicines such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can all cause impaired driving. Next time you're near your medicine cabinet, take a look and you'll likely see a warning on the back of your Advil or Tylenol bottle that states: "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how (OTC drug) affects you."
Certain prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications can affect your judgment, reduce coordination, and cause drowsiness and nausea according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Opioids, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants especially have been linked to an increased risk of a crash.
What Type of Prescribed Medication Can Impair Driving?
Most drug-related DUI cases include painkillers or central nervous system depressants that are commonly used to treat symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, or convulsions. Some of the most common prescription drugs that can lead to a DUI arrest in Florida are:
- Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet (hydrocodone)
- Percocet, Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
How Can You Determine Prescription Drug Impairment?
While it may be easy to judge when to stay off the road after having a drink or two, the interpretation of prescription drug impairment in Florida is not as straightforward. Unlike alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter drugs may remain in your system for over 24 hours. Even with a chemical test, it is extremely difficult to prove impairment at the time of the traffic stop as a drug taken even two days ago can appear in the test results.
How Are Prescription Drug DUI Arrests Evaluated in Florida?
Unlike a traditional DUI traffic stop, a simple breathalyzer test cannot determine if someone is under the influence of prescription drugs. Instead, an officer must rely on tests such as:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) – eye test to show involuntary jerking of the eye
- DUI blood test
- DUI urine test
- Psychophysical tests for divided attention
- Muscle Tone Tests
- Observations of injection sites
Ultimately, a field sobriety test is one of the only ways an officer can determine that the driver was not in control of their normal faculties. While these tests are inconclusive, a Florida DUI prescription arrest must include a blood or urine test to determine that drugs were in fact present in the driver's system at the time of the arrest.
Defense for a Florida DUI Drug Case
An experienced West Palm Beach DUI attorney can review the evidence used against your prescription drug DUI charge to build a solid defense case. A DUI attorney can investigate circumstances such as the length of time the drugs remained in the body, and even how the police handled your arrest. If you were charged with DUI for prescription drugs in Florida, The Law Offices of Matthew Konecky has the resources to successfully fight questionable scientific evidence and criminal charges relating to DUI for prescription drugs. Contact us or call us at (561) 671-5995 to have your case evaluated by an attorney promptly.