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Common Scenarios Resulting in Drug Related DUI Charges


Interviewer: What’s the most common scenario when it comes to a drug-related DUI?

James Abate: The most common scenario is the use of prescription medication, legal prescription medication while having a drink of alcohol. It can come down to taking your Seroquel or your depressants, mood-stabilizing medications, and all of a sudden, you have a drink with it. Now, the medication probably says on the bottle, “Do not take with alcohol.” If you do take alcohol with it then the officer can possibly find you to be intoxicated.

It’s a complicated process but they can use that combination of prescription medication and alcohol to find you driving while impaired, and the penalties are very similar to DWI even though you’re taking nothing illegal, you’re not drunk, you’re just having Bad luck, I guess.

Common Types of Prescription Medications Which Lead to DUI Charges

Interviewer: What are the most common types of prescription medications that you’ve seen? What’s the reason behind it, too?

James Abate: The reason is they don’t want people driving while they’re impaired due to a medication or due to a combination of medication and alcohol. The way that it is proved is also kind of complex and not every police department is set up to prosecute this kind of case. The first thing that has to happen is the person who performs the evaluation at the scene that this person is impaired, has to be what’s called a drug-recognition expert or a DRE.

The Tests that Show Alcohol Impairment are Not Factually Backed Up to Show the Same Impairment from Drugs

A DRE is pretty much junk science as far as many lawyers are concerned. It’s not based on anything scientific. It’s just the various police departments have gotten together and decided that they’re going to say, okay, this is what you look for to determine that someone is impaired by drugs. That’s because the tests that show alcohol impairment are not factually backed up to show the same impairment from drugs.

A police officer can act as a lay witness to determine that someone is intoxicated from marijuana but for anything out of marijuana or alcohol, they’re not usually equipped to testify. So, they have to be a drug-recognition expert in order to make that first step. Then the second step is going to be that the drug-recognition expert has to perform either a blood or urine test.

The Presence of Drug Metabolites in Your System Can Result in a DUI Conviction

As a result of the blood or urine test, if there are metabolites in your system of a drug and the drug-recognition expert feels that you did not perform satisfactorily, then you can be convicted based on that. Now, the metabolites in your blood stream or in your urine, they could be there from 20 days ago. So, you may not have actually taken your medication that day and the police with the drug-recognition expert can go ahead and say, “Nope. You had it in your system. You failed the DRE test,” which is junk science, of course, and convict you on that basis.

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