DUI and Drugs

Prescription and Illegal Drug DUI Charges

Driving under the influence (DUI, DWI or OUI) does not refer only to drivers who have been drinking and driving. It also refers to driving under the influence of drugs, also referred to as drug DUI, DUID, DUI of drugs or drugged driving. This can include prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy or cocaine. There are even situations where a driver may be arrested and charged with DUI for driving while under the influence of an over-the-counter medication, if it is interfering with his or her ability to drive safely. Each state has its own specific laws and penalties associated with prescription and illegal drug DUI offenses.

Illegal Drugs and DUI
Depending on the jurisdiction in which the alleged offense occurs, a driver may face criminal charges for having any amount of an illegal drug in his or her system while operating a motor vehicle.

Prescription Drug DUI
Although a driver may have a legal prescription for a medication such as Vicodin or Xanax, if his or her abilities are impaired by this drug, the driver may face criminal charges for DUI. This same principle may apply to over-the-counter medication as well.

Generally speaking, the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are usually similar to typical DUI penalties, and the process is usually much the same. If convicted of DUI of drugs, a driver may face imprisonment, fines, license suspension and mandatory drug rehabilitation or counseling. Because they are not applicable in testing for drugs, breath tests are not administered in driving under the influence of drugs cases. Usually a blood or urine test will be used to determine the presence and amount of drugs in the driver's system, and special field sobriety tests may be administered to determine whether a driver's abilities are impaired by a controlled substance.

Another key difference in a drug DUI case is the fact that a driver may also face drug charges. If the arresting officer discovers illegal drugs on the driver or in the driver's car, the driver may face drug possession charges. In some states, it is also a crime to be "under the influence" of an illegal drug, even when not operating a motor vehicle. It is possible that these charges may also apply depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Interested in learning more about drugs and DUI? Find a DUI lawyerin your area.