Driving under the influence is one of the most common forms of arrest that there is.
Although many people assume that DUI / OUI charges stem only from alcohol use, it is increasingly common in Massachusetts for motorists to be arrested for DUI while under the influence of prescription medication.
However, due to the nature of prescription drugs, this type of arrest has a level of legal murkiness that can be confusing for those facing these charges.
If you have been charged with a DUI / OUI due to prescription medication use, read on to find out what you can do to defend yourself and how hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.
Probable Cause for a OUI Charge
Being charged with a OUI for prescription medication differs from alcohol related operating under the influence charges in one specific regard: roadside testing.
Thanks to breathalyzer tests, testing for the presence of alcohol in a suspected OUI is relatively easy.
Prescription medication OUIs, on the other hand, require a blood test, which cannot be done on the roadside.
Because of this, most charges related to prescription medication are based on probable cause. Meaning you were pulled over and charged on the suspicion of impairment based on erratic driving. However, the charge must still be proved in court.
The Burden of Proof Is Always On The Prosecution
When it comes time for your criminal trial, with a skilled defense attorney, the burden of proof could work in your favor.
Prescription medication OUIs are much harder to prove than alcohol related offenses, meaning the prosecution will likely build their case around circumstantial evidence.
In the absence of a positive drug test, the prosecution will try your case around police testimony related to your condition when being arrested.
This can include things like excessive speeding, weaving along the road and failing a field sobriety test.
If, however, your blood test does come back positive for a prescription medication, it does not mean that you will automatically lose your case. Again, this is where a skilled defense attorney would be a great asset to your case.
One thing you need to be aware of in prescription OUI cases is that the legality of the influencing drug does not matter.
Even if you have a valid prescription, driving while impaired is still a serious charge that deserves a serious defense.
A factor that might work in your favor is the timing of your drug test.
Some prescription medications can be detected up to 48 hours after ingestion, meaning a positive test does not necessarily prove you were under the influence.
You may also contend that the arresting officer did not follow correct procedure, which would invalidate your arrest if proven. The best choice, however, in defending yourself against a prescription medication driving charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Being charged with operating under the influence of prescription drugs can be one of the most stressful, life affecting circumstances you can find yourself in.
Recognize You May Have a Problem
The use of prescription drugs has been on the rise for many years. Prescription medications are beneficial and even life-saving, however some can be very addicting.
There are three groups of prescription medications that have a high potential for abuse: opioids, Stimulants and depressants.
If your prescribed medication falls into one of those three categories you should consider reviewing the signs of addiction and possibly seek treatment.
Related Resource: Help.org – Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse
If you believe you have been charged with an OUI unfairly, you need to consult with an expert DUI attorney from Oberhauser Law.