Anything that may cause intoxication can lead to a DUI charge. This includes prescription drugs. Common examples of prescription drugs that are involved in prescription DUI cases are painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet, sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta, and anti-depressants like Cymbalta and Effexor.
Fighting a prescription drug DUI charge is challenging as these cases tend to involve unique defenses. If you are facing prescription drug DUI charges, you should get in touch with a seasoned drug DUI attorney today. A dedicated Prince William County prescription drug DUI lawyer could fight for you throughout the legal process.
The elements that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a person of a prescription drug DUI charge are that a person was: (1) driving or operating a motor vehicle, (2) while under the influence of a legal medical drug, (3) to such an extent that the person’s ability to safely drive or operate that motor vehicle was impaired because of the drug. If the prosecution cannot prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then they cannot get a conviction. Prosecutors take these cases very seriously and work hard to secure a conviction. Therefore, it is crucial for defendants to seek the services of an experienced prescription drug DUI lawyer in Prince William County.
Although not specifically mentioned in the drug DUI statute, involuntary intoxication is an affirmative defense to criminal charges in the state of Virginia. Involuntary intoxication occurs when a person consumes intoxicants against their will (or awareness) before committing a criminal act during a state of intoxication. Whether a person was aware that a prescription drug could or would cause side effects of intoxication is highly relevant to bringing this defense to a prescription drug DUI charge.
The penalties for prescription drug DUI charges are the same as non-elevated alcohol-based DUI charges. This means there is no mandatory minimum jail time for a first offense even though there will be mandatory minimum fines, license suspension, alcohol probation, and 6 to 12 months of ignition interlock compliance if a restricted license is requested while suspended. An individual facing these penalties should obtain a Prince William County prescription drug DUI attorney immediately.
Possession of controlled substances outside of a valid prescription is a separate felony or misdemeanor charge on top of a related DUI. Fabrication or alteration of a valid prescription is also a separate charge. Neither of these additional charges technically aggravate a prescription drug DUI under the statutes, however, their relevance to the factual scenario presented to the court will often informally aggravate the treatment of the resulting DUI charge.
Expert toxicologists can be crucial witnesses in prescription drug DUI cases, either for or against the defendant. Because there are many prescribed drugs whose chemical concentration in a person’s blood is not included in Virginia’s DUI statutes, a toxicologist will be necessary to translate the extent and effects of intoxication to the court at a given blood concentration level of a prescribed drug. For more information, consult with a knowledgeable lawyer right away.
A criminal lawyer needs the following information in order to assess and prepare a defense to a prescription drug DUI charge: (1) the observations of the accused’s driving behavior and physical actions while on the scene, (2) any material statements made by the accused to witnesses about their consumption of the involved drug, (3) the measurements and names of detectable drug substances in the accused’s blood if a blood draw was taken, (4) the actual wording and granting information of the underlying drug prescription, and (5) whether the accused was also under the influence of alcohol at the time of the traffic stop.
If you are facing charges, call a Prince William County prescription drug DUI lawyer today.