Missouri has always been tough on drunk driving. Now that medicinal marijuana has become legal in the state, people may be wondering how DWI laws will affect them. But what about other types of legally prescribed drugs? The truth is, you could still receive a DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) even if you’ve only taken drugs prescribed by your doctor.
If you currently use prescription drugs and are concerned about what this might mean if you’re ever pulled over on a suspected DUID, call me today to learn more about your options. All DWI charges are consequential, and you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight on your side to protect your rights. When you work with me at the Summary Law Firm, you’ll know you’re in good hands working with an attorney who focuses solely on criminal defense. From my office in St, Louis, Missouri, I’m able to serve my fellow community members throughout St. Charles, St. Louis, St. Clair (Illinois), and Madison (Illinois) Counties.
DUID FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
When educating yourself about potential DUID charges for prescription drugs, you need to understand the difference between “per se” laws and “impairment” laws. These are both used across the United States to determine levels of impairment, but they approach the evidence of that impairment differently. With a per se law, you can receive a DWI or DUID if you’re found to have above a specified level of drugs (legal or illegal) in your system. The most well-known example of this is the .08% BAC level that states use to charge those driving under the influence of alcohol.
Another approach to proving intoxication is with impairment laws. Under these laws, the prosecution has to prove that you were actually impaired at the time you were arrested, and they do not have to provide a chemical test (such as blood, saliva, or urine) along with this. Instead, they will rely mostly on the arresting officer’s observations. This could mean how the driver was operating their vehicle before they were pulled over, whether the driver slurred their speech, if they had bloodshot eyes, or how well they performed on field sobriety tests.
Missouri doesn’t have any specified per se limits on legal or illegal drugs (aside from alcohol), so any charge you would get for a prescription drug would be based on an officer’s observations. This means it wouldn’t matter how much of the drug was actually in your system at the time. Rather, they would only be looking at your level of impairment. And, there is no law stating that you can’t get a DUID for legal drugs such as prescriptions that you’re taking under the direction of your doctor.
CONSEQUENCES OF DRIVINGON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
If you’re found to be guilty of driving under the influence of prescription drugs (meaning you were in an “intoxicated condition” that impaired your ability to operate a vehicle), the penalties you face are the same as those that accompany a drunk driving conviction.
If this is your first DUID, it will likely be classified as a Class B misdemeanor and you could face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and a license suspension for at least 30 days. If you have previous DWIs on your record, or the crime was aggravated in some way (for example you were driving with a minor under the age of 17 in the car), this would raise the charge to a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone convicted of a DWI or DUID must complete a substance abuse traffic offender program, and in some cases, a judge may allow you to complete a program like this in place of jail time.
DRUGS THAT CAN GET YOU A DUID
Missouri law doesn’t draw a distinction between legal and illegal drugs when deciding who can receive a DWI or DUID. Therefore, you can just as easily be charged with a DUID for illegal substances like cocaine, marijuana, or pseudoephedrine as well as legal drugs like medical marijuana or prescription pills like painkillers. Because the law doesn’t rely on chemical analysis and only your observed “impairment,” you generally can’t avoid these charges by using the excuse that your doctor prescribed the medication to you. However, this defense may help to mitigate certain consequences or convince the judge to exercise leniency during sentencing.
SKILLED ADVOCACY WHEN YOU NEED IT
Any DWI charge needs to be treated seriously, even if you were only on “legal” drugs. The consequences that accompany a conviction can be far-reaching and you need to do everything you can to protect yourself. This means hiring a skilled DWI/DUI defense attorney. If you’re in the St. Louis area or anywhere else in Missouri and have recently been arrested for a DUID for prescription drugs, call The Summary Law Firm today and let me start working on your defense.