Prescription Drug DUI

Arizona’s DUI laws strictly forbid driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that can impair your driving “to the slightest degree”. One mistake people often make is assuming that if they have a prescription from a doctor, that they’re off the hook. But that’s not the case. Even if you’re pulled over, with a prescription in hand, you can still be charged with a DUI if the officer has evidence to suggest that your driving is impaired. Some of the most common prescription drugs associated with DUIs in Arizona include; Vicodin, Valium, Methadone, Codeine, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Xanax, Percocet, and Morphine. But there are a number of additional prescription drug medications that can result in a DUI as well.

Any medication that you’ve been prescribed comes with a warning label that will caution you against operating a vehicle or machinery if the drug causes fatigue or impairment. If you don’t read these and get behind the wheel, you could very likely be charged with a DUI if pulled over. This is also commonly referred to as a drugged DUI.

What Happens if I’m Arrested for a Prescription Drug DUI?

Alcohol related DUIs and prescription drug related DUIs are treated in much the same way in Arizona. If you’re convicted of a prescription drug DUI you’ll face many of the same repercussions, including the mandatory ignition interlock device. So, even though your offense wasn’t related to alcohol, you’ll still have to breath into a tube every time you want to start your car. If it’s your first DUI you’ll also face the following penalties:

  • Minimum of 24 hours in jail
  • A one year license revocation
  • Drug and alcohol abuse education
  • Around $2,00 in fines, fees, and other costs

The above penalties apply if this is your first DUI conviction. But if you’ve been convicted of a previous DUI, or if you’re facing aggravated DUI charges, the penalties dramatically increase. For instance, let’s say you drive off the road and hit a tree, and that you were found to be under the influence of Oxycontin. In that case, if the damage is more than $2,000, you can be charged with an aggravated DUI which is much more severe. In these cases, you can also be charged with a felony for “criminal damage”.

Prescription Drug DUI Defense

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge related to prescription medication, it can be a pretty scary and stressful experience. Beings the medication is prescribed by a doctor, a lot of people don’t even realize that driving on their medication is illegal until it’s too late. Or, in some cases they’re unaware of the affects a specific medication will have on them. However, Arizona law clearly states that you can be charged with DUI if driving under influence of any substance that causes you to be “impaired to the slightest degree”, and a prescription does not preclude you from being charged with driving under the influence of a drug.

If you’re facing DUI charges, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer who’s familiar and experienced with Arizona’s DUI laws. A DUI lawyer will look at your case, examine the evidence against you, and develop a strategy to defend you. After examining your case, it may be revealed that there was no probable cause for originally pulling you over, or that the drug test was improperly administered – both of which can lead to reduced or dismissed charges.

Michael Harwin has been representing professionals in the Tucson area for over 20 years, with a focus on DUI and white-collar criminal defense. For many professionals, a DUI or criminal conviction can ruin their career, or hurt your future in unseen ways. Michael’s well aware of these collateral consequences, and works to find a legal resolution with the least negative impact on your career and life. Call (520) 624-3500 to schedule a consultation.