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DUI and Prescription Drugs


We all know that a driver can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Did you know that a person can also be arrested for DUI if their normal faculties were impaired by a prescription medication?

Despite how common it is for individuals of all ages to use some sort of legally prescribed medication, officers might use that knowledge to make a false allegation that a person was impaired by that prescription drug. These allegations are particularly common when the person has also consumed an alcoholic beverage.

Despite the initial fear and confusion after an arrest, many of these cases are much more difficult to prosecute than traditional DUI charges stemming from alcohol or illegal drug use.


Prescription Drug DUI Defenses in Florida


The type of evidence and how it was collected can be challenged in court. Alan S. Bernstein P.A. can file a motion to suppress or exclude this evidence so that the state attorney is not allowed to mention it during the trial. 

While state attorneys can feel comfortable pursuing DUI charges in cases where a driver was shown to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, blood samples from drivers that test positive for prescription drugs are not always incriminating.

  • A few of the flaws in these types of cases that can be used as defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • The officers usually have you take a urine test, and those types of tests usually only tell you what was in your system some time in the past and not what is in your system when the urine was taken.

  • Alleged offender suffered adverse drug reaction;

  • Alleged offender used properly diagnosed amount of legal medication;

  • Alleged offender was not under influence of the drug at the time he or she was driving;

  • Alleged symptoms of intoxication were not drug-related;

  • Illegal search of alleged offender’s vehicle;

  • Illegal stop of vehicle;

  • Improperly administered field sobriety or chemical tests; or lack of evidence.


DUI and Prescription Drug Charges in Florida


Under Florida Statute § 316.193, a person may be charged with the "prescription drug" version DUI for driving while under the influence of any drug that impairs his or her normal faculties. Florida Statute § 327.354(1) states that normal faculties “include, but are not limited to, the ability to see, hear, walk, talk, judge distances, drive an automobile, make judgments, act in emergencies, and, in general, normally perform the many mental and physical acts of daily life.”

When police officers record observations of motorists they claim were operating while under the influence, they often use commonly cited symptoms such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or delayed reaction time. In some cases, Florida will rely on the observations of drug recognition experts (DREs), which are law enforcement officers who have completed Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) training in the Drug Influence Evaluation (DIE) exercises and detecting drug-related impairment.

Some of the legal prescription drugs that are most commonly involved in these types of DUI arrests include:

  • Adderall®

  • Alprazolam (Xanax®)

  • Chlorpheniramine and Hydrocodone (Tussionex®)

  • Clonazepam (Klonopin®)

  • Codeine

  • Diazepam (Valium®)

  • Dextromethorphan (DXM)

  • Fentanyl

  • Hydrocodone

  • Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen (Lortab®, Lorcet®, Vicodin®)

  • Lorazepam (Ativan®)

  • Lorcet or Lortab® (hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen)

  • Lunesta® (Eszopiclone)

  • Meperidine (Demerol®)

  • Methadone (Symoron, Dolophine, Amidone, Methadose, Physeptone, Heptadon)

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin®)

  • Morphine

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)

  • Phenobarbital

  • Phenobarbitone

  • Vicodin

  • ®Zaleplon (Sonata®, Starnoc®, and Andante®)

  • Zolpidem (Ambien®)

Alan S. Bernstein P.A. - with offices in Broward and Palm Beach - handling cases in the counties of Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Hendry and Glades, understands the science of breath, blood and urine testing, as well as all facets of DUI Defense. Call right now for a free, no obligation consultation.  You only have 10 days to fight the suspension of your driver’s license.  Call right now! Call Alan S. Bernstein P.A. at 954-925-3111 or 954-347-1000 during the evenings and weekends.  

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