In Florida, you can be charged for a DUI with prescription drugs just the same as any other case. The issue is whether or not you were impaired. These cases are rarely black and white and leave ample area for defending.
As criminal defense attorneys, we regularly help people like you get their charges dropped or reduced. Here’s what to do next:
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI with Prescription Medication
Get your prescription history- you can go to the pharmacy where you fill your prescriptions and get a print out of when and how much medication you were prescribed.
Take a picture of the prescription bottle- I always like to show the prosecutor the proof of where the medication came from.
Sign up for DUI school- the judge and the prosecutor are going to want to see this.
Sign up for counseling or NA- it is not an admission of guilt to get treatment. In fact, it is the single most important step that you can take to help yourself.
Contact a criminal defense attorney- we will need to put together a strategy early on. Do not waste the days and months waiting while your case goes through the system. Use that time to put yourself in a strong position to defend the case or get leniency.
Can You Get Arrested for a DUI with Prescription Drugs in Florida?
- Yes. Contrary to popular belief, prescription medication can still result in a DUI arrest.
- 56% of serious injuries and fatal crashes in the U.S. involve a driver with at least one drug in their blood.
- DUI (Driving Under the Influence) arrests are usually for people who are drunk driving or driving with illegal drugs. But if you drive with prescription drugs that impair your ability to drive safely, then you can face arrest.
- Driving under the influence is determined by the substance’s impairment of your normal faculties – such as walking, talking, judging distances, making judgments, quick reactions and driving your vehicle safely.
- Some prescription drugs have this effect and many include warning labels about driving.
- If a police officer sees you driving erratically or dangerously, then you may be pulled over. They can then ask you to perform a breathalyzer or blood tests. They may also ask you to perform sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line or following their finger with your eyes.
- If these tests reveal that you are under the influence, then you can be arrested.
Common Prescription Medications Involved in DUIs
Arrests are often made for DUI for prescription drugs such as :
- Percocet, Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet (hydrocodone)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
Possible Defenses of Prescription Drug DUIs
Prescription or counter-medication DUIs in Florida usually involve complex scientific issues, combined with the evidence of impairment.
With the help of an experienced DUI attorney, you can get these charges dropped in court. We will build a defense depending on the circumstances of your situation.
- The alleged impairment was not enough to prove your guilt.
- You had an unexpected, adverse drug reaction.
- Your body reacted to medication in an unexpected way.
- Medication was combined causing a synergistic effect.
- The law enforcement officers didn’t correctly administer tests.
- Your rights were violated (you were stopped and searched unlawfully).
- The medication packaging didn’t warn you about side effects.
- The police did not use a DRE expert in the investigation.
Law enforcement can only stop you if:
- There was reasonable suspicion you committed a crime or traffic infraction.
- They have probable cause that you’ve committed or are committing a crime.
For example, they can stop you if you are driving erratically or dangerously. But they can’t just randomly stop you for no reason. If they did, then your case may potentially be thrown out entirely.
Read our quick guide on what to do if stopped for a DUI in Florida here.
Blood and Urine Tests
In court, the prosecution must prove the presence of prescription drugs and prove how that impaired your driving.
A blood or urine test may be used as the core argument in your case. But these tests involve complex scientific details, such as whether the ingredients were active at the time of testing.
More so, every person has unique tolerances to prescription medication and just because the blood test says the medication was in your blood, doesn’t mean you were impaired – you’re allowed to drive with prescription medication, so long as you’re not impaired (but you shouldn’t drive with medication that warns you of impairing side effects or ‘Don’t Drive’).
If you are arrested and the evidence is stacked against you, a criminal defense lawyer will still look for ways to mitigate or minimize the penalties.
If we can show that you have a prescription for the medication that was found in your system and it was a situation where you made a mistake with medication management, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have often been able to get the DUI charge in this scenario reduced to a reckless driving.
If there is a combination of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication in your system, then you will need to take steps to get clean and sober. The judge and the prosecutor are going to want you to get treatment so that this does not happen again. We can advise you on a strategy.
Tips for Driving and Prescribed Medication
- Plan ahead for alternative options, such as a taxi or sober friend.
- Do not be a passenger of a driver under the influence.
- Always wear a seat belt.
- Read the warnings and side effects of your counter medication or prescription drugs.
- If you don’t feel right, don’t drive.
How to Keep Your License After a DUI
If you blew under the legal limit and did not refuse the urine test, you should still have your license. But, if you blew over the legal limit or refused the intoxilyzer or urine test, then your license is suspended and we need to work on options. If it is your first time DUI, you will be able to get a hardship license for the period of suspension.
For more details, read our guide on How to Keep My License After a DUI in Florida here.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI with prescription drugs, please contact our Florida criminal defense lawyers today. With impressive experience and resources, we will fight aggressively to get your charges dropped.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Pinellas County at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., are part of one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with over 60 years of experience. We have the reputation and connections to make things happen.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300