More Americans are taking prescription medications than ever before. In fact, studies show that approximately 55 percent of all Americans are prescribed and regularly take some kind of prescription medication. Opioids, drugs typically used for pain relief, have grown in popularity over the past decade. The drugs are particularly popular in the state of Georgia. The CDC reports that there is 82.2 to 95 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in the state with opioid prescriptions.
Prescription Medications and DUI
The overwhelming use of opioids in the state has created many problems. One particularly interesting problem is the increase in DUIs in the state. In Georgia, you can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including legally prescribed medication.
Georgia Code Title 40 Motor Vehicles and Traffic § 40-6-391(a)(2) states that it is illegal to operate a car if you are “under the influence of any drug,” if doing so makes it less safe for you to drive. Many opioid users report feeling fatigued, cloudy, or hazy after taking their medication. These side effects can make it dangerous to operate a car on Georgia roads and highways.
What Does it Mean to be Under the Influence?
How can police determine that you are “under the influence” of a prescription medication in violation of the law? Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to fail a chemical test to be considered under the influence and arrested for DUI. Police have the discretion to evaluate your behavior and relevant circumstances to determine if you are unfit to operate a vehicle safely. The following factors may lead police to believe that you are under the influence of a drug in a way that makes it unsafe for you to operate a car.
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty concentrating
- Impaired motor function
Field Sobriety Tests and DUIs
Police can require drivers believed to be under the influence of drugs to perform roadside sobriety tests. A driver's inability to complete these physical tasks properly can be used as evidence to support an arrest for DUI.
It is important to note that these field sobriety tests are designed to test for intoxication by alcohol--not drugs. If you are arrested for driving under the influence because you failed a field sobriety test, it is important to fight any DUI charge you face. An experienced Cobb County DUI attorney can contest the officer's report and argue that these tests are not a proper way to measure whether a driver is under the influence of prescription medication. Aggressively fighting the evidence used to support your DUI arrest is the best way to beat a DUI in Georgia.
Penalties for Prescription Drug DUIs
Driving after consuming opioids or other prescription medications can result in an arrest and criminal charge of DUI. The penalties for a drug-related DUI are identical to the penalties for an alcohol-related DUI include the following.
- First Offense: 10 days to 12 months in jail
- Second Offense: 90 days to 12 months in jail
- Third Offense: 120 days to 12 months in jail
- Fourth Offense: 1 to 5 years in prison (if the fourth offense is within a 10-year period).
In addition to time behind bars, a DUI conviction can result in the mandatory suspension of your driver's license, thousands of dollars in fines, community service, and mandatory completion of DUI education courses.
Fight Your Cobb County DUI
Have you been arrested for driving under the influence of prescription medication? Call a Cobb County DUI attorney immediately for help fighting any DUI charges you may face. Drug-related DUIs are not based on scientific tests but rather an arresting officer's subjective evaluation of the situation. Hiring an attorney to contest the officer's findings can help to protect your future. Contact us today to learn more.