Prescriptions Drugs, DUI's, and Driving While Impaired
Fresno Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney Jonathan Rooker commonly hears the each of the follwoing qeustions:
I got a DUI, but I have a prescription for my drugs. I have prescription for Oxycodone, but the cop gave me a DUI anyways? Can I get a DUI for taking Vicodin if I have a prescription? The Doctor didn't tell me not to drive, but the officer wrote me up for a DUI because I took Oxycodone. Can I beat a DUI for Vicodin? Can I beat a DUI for driving after taking a Soma? Can I get a DUI for driving after taken Oxycodone?
Prescription drugs are one of the fastest rising categories of DUI/DWI in America. As alcohol DUI's are decreasing, and prescription drug usage increases, we are seeing a growing trend where normal, law abiding citizens are being cited for DUI due to their prescription narcotics. Many of the defendants are elderly, have medical problems, and have taken the same prescription for a lengthy period of time. One day they are stopped, many times due to an accident, equipment violation, or small regulatory offense such as a inoperable break light or inoperable license plate illumination light, and subsequently cited for DUI.
Time and time again we see blood levels of the active ingredient in the prescription drug being will within therapeutic levels, a good indicator the narcotic is not being abused. Other time the individual had taken their prescription immediately before driving home from work. They are cited a few miles up the road, and a lengthy procedure occurs before the defendant is even taken to have their blood drawn. Many times their level at the time of driving is much lower than the level at the time the blood is drawn. This is because the pill takes time to enter the blood stream. Many drugs a what is called "Protein binding" which means the molecule must bind with a protein to cross the blood brain barrier. If the drug does not cross the blood brain barrier, it will not impair a person's driving. Different people bind at different levels. This means the raw testing of a person's blood or urine is not completely accurate as to understanding the level of impairment. As people age, their bodies become less able to protein bind, meaning it is less effective, and less likely to impair them at the same concentration in their bodies as a younger person's body.