In Georgia, even with a lawful prescription, a driver is not immune from a Driving Under the Influence arrest and prosecution if the driver is incapable of driving safely.
DUI Drugs Charge Includes Legally Prescribed Medications
There is often a misconception about how a person might be charged with DUI. If you ask, many people will tell you that you get charged with a DUI when you drink too much and get behind the wheel of a car. True. However, a Driving under the Influence charge can also mean that you have operated a vehicle in an unsafe manner while under the influence of prescription drugs that were legally prescribed to you by your doctor.
Wine is legal, but drinking a bottle of wine and driving is not. Similarly, a driver can be legally prescribed pharmaceuticals and still be guilty of DUI Drugs. In today’s society a large percentage of adults, especially older adults are on some type of medication. A vast majority of these medications are for lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure or other common maladies. However, some people are prescribed medications either for temporary or chronic conditions that can seriously affect driving.
The Standard for DUI Drugs
If a driver has been Legally Prescribed the medication, then the legal standard for a conviction is that the driver must be “incapable of driving safely.” If the driver is unable to provide a Legal Prescription, then the standard is “Less Safe.” Less Safe means that the driver was a “less safe driver, when compared to a driver who had not consumed the prescription drugs.”
This distinction is very important in a DUI Drugs case because the “incapable of driving safely” is a very hard standard for the prosecution to meet unless the driver is involved in an accident or has serious and visible impairment. The driver may drive poorly or even “less safely” than another driver, but in order to convict a person with a legal prescription, the State must prove the driver was “incapable of driving safely.”
Without a prescription puts the case under a “less safe” standard, which is easier for the State to prove if a minor to moderate traffic violation occurs and/or minor to moderate visible impairment.
Types of Drugs
Although not in the Legal Code Book, the type of medication is an important factor in a DUI Drugs case. If the prescriptions are for items that are commonly known narcotics, most jurors will be more likely to convict due to the perception that the drugs are more likely to impair someone operating a vehicle. These drugs are usually in the opiate/opioid family, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.
In any prescription medication DUI Drug case, it is very important that the prescribing doctor be willing to support the prescribed medication as it relates to driving. A simple letter can do a lot of good in a case. If the doctor takes time out of his or her busy schedule to appear for trial, it is even better.
Obviously, there are many layers to building a defense on any alcohol or drug related DUI charge. An attorney makes a decision based on the evidence and the law regarding the best course of action on a particular case.
About the attorney: Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.