Everyone knows that drinking and driving do not mix. What many people are not aware of is the fact that they can be criminally prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs too. For obvious reasons, driving while under the influence of illicit drugs such as cocaine, PCP, heroine, and methamphetamines is dangerous since these drugs have a meaningful effect on the human body. What about perfectly legal over the counter medications and prescription medications?
People can be equally prosecuted for driving under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs. As long as these drugs affect the way you excursion and function a motor means, you can be charged with DUI/Drugs and confront virtually the same penalties as a regular DUI conviction.
With advances in medical technology, prescription drug use has reached all new heights. According to data released by the Department of Health and Human sets, more than half of all American’s take at the minimum one prescription drug and one in six American’s take three or more medications.
Prescription drug use has been on the rise for all age groups; for example, five out of six people over 65 take at the minimum one medication and nearly half of senior citizens are on three or more medications.
Antidepressant use tripled between 1988-1994 and 1999-2000. Ten percent of American women are on antidepressants and four percent of men are now on them. According to a study on the use of prescription drugs in the United States the number of people with at the minimum one prescription rose from 67% to 74% between 2000 and 2006.
Considering how nearly three-fourths of the population is on at the minimum one medication, it’s safe to assume that many Washington residents will excursion while on their medication at some point in time. Unfortunately, prescription drug use has grown at such a fast speed that law enforcement is only beginning to learn about the effects of medication on people’s driving ability.
Prescription medications and DUI are a newer area of law. As time goes by, Washington State is becoming more aggressive about prosecuting those who are caught driving while under the influence of drugs. Law enforcement officers are now undergoing specialized training to help them estimate suspects who they believe are driving under the influence of drugs. They are called Drug Recognition Experts in the field of law enforcement.
If you are pulled over by the Washington State Patrol or another police department, you could be arrested for DUI due to illegal or legal drug use, pursuant to RCW 46.61.502. You could already be prosecuted for driving under the influence of a prescribed medication. This can be extremely frightening considering the fact that you probably didn’t already know you were breaking the law.
A conviction for a drug DUI carries a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. The mandatory minimum sentence if this is your first offense is one day in jail and a $350 fine plus court fees and assessments, often totaling over $1000. This is the least restrictive sentence a estimate can order, but, the estimate has discretion to impose anything up to the maximum sentence. Additionally, the Department of Licensing will suspend your license for at the minimum 90 days, require high-risk insurance for three years, and impose between a one-year and ten-year ignition interlock restriction. It is basic that you speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. There are steps that your lawyer can take that may help you avoid a DUI conviction altogether. There is no time to waste so contact an experienced DUI defense attorney today!