When it comes to driver safety, driving under the influence (DUI) in any circumstance is strongly discouraged. Not only will it put your life in danger, but it will also put the well-being of any other motorists on the road at risk as well. Because of how hazardous impaired drivers are to everyone else, law enforcement tends to be very vigilant of any suspicious behavior on the road. However, while most DUI cases are typically associated with alcohol consumption, it is not the only way to get in trouble for one. If your ability to operate a motor vehicle is in any way impaired due to the use of either illegal or legally prescribed drugs, you may be convicted of a DUI. In this scenario, you would be subject to the same severe penalties as you would for drunk driving. If you are facing a DUI offense after driving on a legally prescribed drug, get in touch with a Camden County DUI attorney at Thomas Demarco & Associates, LLC to learn more about your next steps.
How do DUI laws work if I am driving on a legally prescribed drug?
In the state of New Jersey, DUI laws do not differentiate between alcohol consumption or drug use, whether it is legal or illegal. As long as any chemical substance is in your system that adversely affects your ability to drive, that could make you susceptible to a DUI charge. This can be particularly problematic if you are taking any medications prescribed by a physician before getting behind the wheel.
While the drug you were prescribed may be legal and necessary for your health, the potential side effects could put you and other drivers at risk. If you are a first-time offender, you will face serious consequences such as fines between $250 to $400, a suspension of your license until an ignition interlock is installed, and potentially 30 days of jail time. It should also be noted that the severity of these penalties will only increase with repeat offenses.
Can I fight a DUI charge for legally prescribed drugs in court?
Perhaps the most substantial difference between DUI cases involving alcohol compared to cases involving legally prescribed drugs is the manner in which you can fight the charge in court. While a breathalyzer test showing a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit will make it difficult to challenge in court, that is not the case with prescription medication. Usually, a blood or urine test would be required to prove the presence of any drug in your system.
Although, the presence of a drug does not prove the threshold of intoxication needed to convict you. A drug recognition expert (DRE) would be needed to conduct a proper examination to determine this. Without a valid DRE report, your DUI case will likely be thrown out. Keep in mind that even if a DRE does perform a full examination, the process requires a wide array of tests that can be challenged by a skilled DUI lawyer.