While state laws differ, driving under the influence of drugs can not only lead to similar charges as an alcohol related DUI, but in some cases it can lead to even harsher penalties. This post highlights how to handle a drug related DUI charge.
What drugs are we talking about?
Actually, you can be charged with a DUI for over the counter drugs, not just illegal drugs. For example, if you took some over the counter medicine which made you tired, it could impair your driving. The officer could pull you over, could see you’re driving under the influence, and charge you. This occurs in all states. If you’re taking an illegal drug, and you are caught, it may lead to charges beyond a DUI. If you are caught with the drugs, for example, you could be charged with possession. Also, if you hurt someone while abusing drugs and driving, you could face felony charges (if you’re in an accident).
Why legal drugs?
Even if your drug is prescribed by a physician, you must take care not to put others in danger. The laws are in place to protect all drivers and pedestrians: you, the other drivers on the road, and people on the streets. If you are prescribed a medicine, take it at the dosage allowed, and drive, there is still a chance you can get a DUI charge. It’s important to speak with your doctor about what you can do. After all, some medicines can make your drowsy or otherwise impair your ability to drive. In these cases, you should not driver when experiencing the effects.
What do officers look for?
How an officer pulls you over for taking drugs, legal or illegal, is typically no different than if you’ve been drinking. If your driving is clearly impaired, the officer can tell. He or she will look to see if you are driving oddly, passing in and out of lanes, speeding, running red lights and stop signs – anything to pull you over in the first place, but not always breaking actual laws while driving.
What are the penalties?
The penalties can sometimes be more severe, especially if you’ve been taking illegal drugs and are caught with them. In other cases, you are charged with a customary DUI, with penalties depending on your actual history. If you’ve been pulled over multiple times for abusing drugs and driving, for example, you would get harsher penalties. For a first time DUI, a judge will suspend your license for a year, fine you for as much as $1,000, and also punish you with jail time. If you get multiple DUI charges, or if you hurt someone or endangered a minor, the charges are more strict.
What if you feel the charges are wrong?
Even if you feel the charges of a drug DUI charge are correct, you need an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Go local, go with experience, and consider different prices. An experienced DUI lawyer can defend you, sometimes defeating the charges, other times lessening the penalties.