The law says that you must be competent and in control to safely operate a vehicle. If you are impaired while you are driving, you are breaking the law. When it comes to DUI laws, the law is not about what impaired you, but that you were impaired.
Any of the following substances can cause impairment:
- Illegal drugs
- Certain drugs prescribed by a doctor
- Some over the counter medications (such as allergy and cold medications)
- A combination of any of the above
The law is not concerned with what is in your system. They are concerned that your driving ability was affected. The drug may be a cough medication or allergy tablet that you took several hours before. You even forget the long-acting cold tablet you took this morning, and you have a drink, or you take a prescribed daily medication that normally causes no problem. The combination could cause you to have a slow response time or to feel sleepy while you are driving. Taking the medication is not illegal. Having the drink is not illegal. Driving a car when you are sleepy, and your reflexes are affected is a DUI charge.
When it comes to DUI concerning alcohol, there is a standard and legal limit. When you test above that limit, you can be charged. That is not so with drugs (legal or illegal). This means proving you were under the influence is harder to do. Many times, it comes down to witness testimony and your word against the officers. But, you are in their playground, and you need someone to balance the scales.
When a person is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, they do not take a breathalyzer test. Most of the time, a blood test is administered and in rare cases a urine test. However, because the same standards do not apply to a DUI, alcohol and a DUI, drugs the officer will usually call in a drug recognition expert or DRI who will testify in court.
If you are being charged with a DUI, your DUI attorney will first investigate the stop. The officer has specific rules they must follow by law. Your attorney will investigate to see that he honored all the rights afforded you by law.
The “no standards” situation can work for you or against you. In the hands of a seasoned DUI attorney, reasonable doubts can be raised. Without a qualified attorney, the prosecution will hammer down the points of the report made by the officer and the DRI leaving you little defense.
The prosecution must prove you were impaired at the time you were operating the automobile. An experienced DUI attorney knows that the tests used to determine that as a fact are often inaccurate. While you can go to trial without a defense lawyer, you are better served to hire a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer as the costs associated with a DUI are very high and they follow you for years.