Everybody knows it’s illegal to drive while drunk in Kent, and anywhere else in the U.S. However, not many are aware that they can be criminally prosecuted for getting on the road while under the influence of drugs as well. Clearly, driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, like ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, among others, puts an individual at greater risk of accident. But what does the law say about legal over-the-counter (OTC) and doctor-prescribed medications?
As any DUI attorney will remind you, anyone can be equally prosecuted for DUI when found impaired by legally prescribed, OTC, or illicit drugs. In Washington, as long as these drugs impair your ability to drive safely, you can be arrested and/or convicted for drug DUI, and depending on the extent of damage you caused, be penalized in virtually the same way as a regular DUI conviction.
A double-edged sword
Many Americans depend on prescription medicines and supplements to treat or allay ailments and diseases, physiological and psychological alike. However, these medicines also come with side effects that can compromise a driver’s judgment on the road. According to the FDA, typical reactions may include:
- loss of focus
- blurred vision
- slowed movement
FDA states that older adults taking prescription medicines are more prone to accidents because they tend to use more medicines than any other age group, with five out of six over 65 taking at least one medication, and almost half, taking at least three or more.
Washington Law on Drug DUI
The State of Washington takes DUI seriously: it’s a crime, pursuant to RCW 46.61.502, if a person is convicted of driving under the influence of any drug—prescribed, OTC, or illegal drugs. The penalties are basically similar for those convicted on an alcohol-DUI charge, with a few exceptions.
The extent of penalty will depend on the number of prior offenses and the degree of damage the action has caused. If you’re arrested for drugged-driving, you will have to serve a mandatory minimum to maximum jail term, pay a fine, face license suspension or revocation, and undergo chemical dependency assessment.
A trial lawyer who has handled a good deal of DUI-drug cases can help protect your rights and move to have the penalties against you reduced. Your lawyer may also tear into evidence admissibility, in case there was any violation of a statutory or constitutional right involved in acquiring the evidence. If you’re charged with drug DUI in Kent, seek help from tireless and trustworthy lawyers like DUI defense lawyer, Atty. Kim E. Hunter.
Source: Driving When You Are Taking Medications, FDA.gov
Source: Drug Facts: Drugged Driving, DrugAbuse.gov