Many Americans take prescription medications for various health reasons and medical conditions. In fact, 7 out of 10 people in the U.S. take prescription medications for things like pain, blood pressure, and anxiety. The widespread use of prescription medications leads many people to think it is fine to drive when using them as prescribed by a doctor. However, this is not the case. When you are driving, having prescription medications in your system could place you at a greater risk of being stopped for DUI.
In Pennsylvania, prescription drugs are essentially viewed in the same way as illegal drugs when it affects your driving. You can be charged with a DUI and face penalties that are equally as severe as if you had been under the influence of illegal drugs if you are found to have had prescription drugs in your system at the time of the stop. If you are facing DUI charges due to prescription drugs, it’s important to seek legal counsel from a Southeastern Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
Prescription Medications and DUI
All states have “per se” laws that prohibit drivers from operating a vehicle with a certain amount of alcohol in their system. This legal limit is almost always a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more. These laws also apply to illegal drugs such as methamphetamines and cocaine. Prescription medications are not classified under per se laws; instead, these DUIs are considered “impairment DUIs.” Rather than focusing on the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, impairment DUI laws focus on how the substance affects a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. DUI cases involving prescription drugs like painkillers or sleeping pills are almost always charged under impairment DUI laws.
Prescription Drug Impairment DUIs in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s prescription drug DUIs are treated similarly to drunk driving cases. Just like with driving under the influence of alcohol, if the police pull you over because they suspect you are driving under the influence of prescription medications, they will be observing your behavior and looking for any signs that show you are impaired. This applies to your driving behaviors, too. Actions like weaving, driving way under or over the speed limit, and running stop lights could all signal impairment. They will also look at physical factors, such as your speech and eyes to see if there is any suspected impairment.
The police may also choose to conduct a field sobriety or blood test to confirm whether you have substances in your body that caused your impairment and to identify said substances. Even if the drugs were prescribed by your doctor, you can still be charged with a DUI if the drugs impaired your driving.
Get Help from an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Today
Getting a DUI can be an extremely stressful experience. A DUI conviction can have serious consequences, like jail time and expensive fines, which is why it’s essential to make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible after an arrest.
If you have been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, you will need to secure expert legal counsel. A skilled attorney can make sure any illegal evidence is removed from your case and develop a strong defense strategy. At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, our DUI attorneys are committed to helping minimize the penalties associated with a DUI arrest. For over 65 years, our criminal defense attorneys have advocated for our client’s best interests in Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. To schedule a free case review with a skilled personal injury lawyer, complete a contact form or call today at 215-822-7575.