Chester County DUI Prescription Medicine Attorney
Nearly 70 percent of adults living in the United States take at least one prescription drug, and more than 50 percent take two or more prescription drugs. A staggering twenty percent of Americans are on five or more prescription medications, with the most commonly prescribed drugs being antibiotics, antidepressants and painkilling opioids. Whether for pain, infection, depression, high blood pressure or other conditions, taking prescription drugs may place a person at risk for a DUI when that person drives while taking their prescription drugs—as most do.
DUI and Prescription Meds
The crime of driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania applies to motorists who are under the influence of alcohol and/or a controlled substance. While many people assume that alleged offenders are only arrested for being under the influence of common illegal drugs, the truth is that drivers can be charged with DUI if they are impaired by legal prescription medications too.
A DUI arrest based on prescription drug usage (commonly called drugged driving, driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID) is just as serious as charges based on alcohol or an illegal drug. DUID cases involving prescription medications are much more complex than traditional alcohol-related DUI cases because it is often incredibly difficult to determine what dosage is considered too much to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Lawyer for Prescription Drug DUI Arrests in West Chester, PA
If you were arrested for DUI anywhere in southeastern Pennsylvania for allegedly being under the influence of a prescription medication, it will be in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Ciccarelli Law Offices aggressively defends clients in communities throughout Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and the greater Philadelphia area.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys work as a team to fight for the most favorable outcome to DUI cases, including possibly getting the criminal charges reduced or dismissed. You can have our lawyers review your case and help you understand your legal options when you call (610) 692-8700 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
The state of Pennsylvania treats prescription drugs, legally prescribed by a doctor, nearly as harshly as illegal drugs. Charges for DUI—with resulting penalties as severe as for those testing a BAC at twice the legal limit—can result when prescription drug use has impaired a person’s ability to drive safely. If a person is stopped in the state of Pennsylvania on suspicion of impaired driving, he or she will probably be given tests to determine sobriety level as well as a urine or blood test. The officer will look for slurred speech or glassy eyes and other signs of impairment.
The list of prescription drugs that are categorized as drugs subject to Pennsylvania’s Driving After Imbibing statute (DUI) is vast and includes but is not limited to:
- Antidepresants that could put you at risk for a DUI include Prozac (Fluoxetine), Luvox Fluvoxamine), Zoloft (Sertaline), Paxil (Paroxetine) , Lexapro (Escitalopram) and Celexa (Citalopram);
- Valium (Diazepam)
- Antihistamines that could put at risk for a DUI include Dimetapp (Brompheniramine), Chlor-Trimeton (Chlorpheniramine), Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate), Vicks NyQuil, and Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine (Doxylamine); Claritin (Loratadine), Zyrtec (Cetrizine) and Allegra (Fexofenadine); and
- Decongestants such as Sedated;
- Sleeping Pills
- Hydrocodone, such as Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet-HD, Hycodan, Vicoprofen) and, of course,
- Medical Marijuana
In some cases, Drug Recognition Evaluators may be brought in to determine whether prescription drugs significantly impaired the driver’s ability to drive safely. The evaluator will check vital signs, then will ask questions and possibly perform their own tests, similar to field sobriety tests. Even when the determination is that the drugs which impaired the driver were legally prescribed, the person can be charged with DUI if the officer feels he or she was not driving in a safe manner.
Penalties for DUI Prescription Medications Violations
Depending on the level of impairment and whether this is a first, second, third or subsequent offense, a conviction for DUI prescription medications violations can include:
- Three days to sixty months in prison
- $1,000-$10,000 in fines,
- Twelve to eighteen months license suspension
- Court-ordered highway safety school
- Attendance in a court-ordered treatment program
- Installation of a locking device on the person’s vehicle.
It is important to understand that prescription drugs such as Ambien, Ativan and Xanax, as well as many others, may impair driving ability to some extent, and could land you in serious legal trouble if you are pulled over. In addition to the penalties imposed by the Court, you will suffer the same long-term consequences as the person who receives a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol. You will have a criminal record which can prevent you from keeping your current job or obtaining a new one, regardless of your qualifications. Your auto insurance rates will likely skyrocket and you may be unable to receive federal funding for college or even own a firearm. It is imperative you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, and refrain from speaking to the police until your attorney arrives.
Chester County Prescription Medication DUI Information Center
- Which kinds of prescription drugs are typically involved in DUI offenses?
- What are the consequences of being convicted of this crime?
- Where can I learn more about prescription drug issues in West Chester?
Types of Prescription Drugs in Pennsylvania DUI Offenses
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 3802(d) makes it illegal for an individual to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of the movement of a motor vehicle under any of the following circumstances:
- There is in the individual’s blood any amount of a Schedule I, Schedule II, or Schedule III controlled substance which has not been medically prescribed for the individual;
- The individual is under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual’s ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle; or
- The individual is under the combined influence of alcohol and a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual’s ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.
Certain prescription medications are classified as controlled substances. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that the most commonly abused classes of prescription drugs include opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants.
People may be charged with a prescription medication-related DUID offense if they test positive for any of the following common prescription drugs:
- Alfentanil (Alfenta);
- Alprazolam (Xanax);
- Amphetamine (Adderall, Dyanavel XR, Evekeo);
- Clonazepam (Klonopin);
- Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine);
- Diazepam (Valium);
- Diphenoxylate (Lomotil);
- Fentanyl (Duragesic, Durogesic);
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin);
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Palladone);
- Meperidine (Demerol);
- Methamphetamine (Desoxyn);
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta);
- Oxycodone (Oxycet, OxyContin, Percocet);
- Oxymorphone (Opana);
- Pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal);
- Propoxyphene (Darvon);
- Ritalin; and
- Zolpidem (Ambien)
Prescription Medication DUI Penalties in Chester County
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute § 3804(c), drugged driving arrests involving controlled substances such as prescription drugs are subject to the same punishments as DUI offenses involving the highest blood alcohol range. Depending on an alleged offender’s prior criminal record, a conviction could result in any of the following sentences:
- First Offense — Imprisonment for not less than 72 consecutive hours, a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000, attend an approved alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.
- Second Offense — Imprisonment for not less than 90 days, a fine of not less than $1,500, attend an approved alcohol highway safety school, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.
- Third or Subsequent Offense — Imprisonment for not less than one year, a fine of not less than $2,500, and compliance with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements.
An arrest for a prescription medication-related DUID offense is not the same as a conviction. A prosecutor still needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a prescription drug impaired the alleged offender’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
While a chemical test may prove the presence of a prescription medication in the alleged offender’s system, it rarely shows that a person was under the influence of that drug at the time he or she was driving. An experienced criminal defense attorney will not only be able to challenge the prosecutorial claims of impairment but can also investigate to determine whether there may have been any mistakes in the administration and handling of a chemical test.
Pennsylvania DUI and Prescription Meds Resources
Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Annual Plan And Report 2014-2015 — View this annual report from the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs that includes numerous statistics and initiatives relating to substance abuse. Prescription drugs play a major role in the concerns and goals of the Department. Learn more about proper use of prescription drugs, access to treatment, and education about medication misuse.
PA Stop | The Commonwealth Prevention Alliance Campaign to Stop Opiate Abuse — The Commonwealth Prevention Alliance designed the PA Stop website “to educate Pennsylvanians about the risks of prescription painkiller and heroin use, the relationship between painkiller and heroin use, and what to do when you need help.” You can learn more about who is at risk of prescription opiate addiction and find answers to frequently asked questions about prescription drugs. The website also has several links to agencies throughout Pennsylvania if you are seeking help with a prescription drug addiction.
Ciccarelli Law Offices | West Chester Prescription Drug DUI Lawyer
Were you arrested in southeastern Pennsylvania for DUI because you were allegedly under the influence of a prescription medication? You should contact Ciccarelli Law Offices as soon as possible for help exploring all of you possible legal defenses.
Our West Chester criminal defense attorneys have offices in West Chester, Springfield, Philadelphia, King of Prussia, Lancaster, Kennett Square, Radnor, Plymouth Square, and Malvern. Call (610) 692-8700 or complete an online contact form today to schedule a free consultation that will allow our lawyers to provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.
Contact Our Chester County Drug DUI Defense Lawyers
The prescription drug DUI defense lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices are devoted and passionate about serving our clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Our Chester County based law firm serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and Paoli. Contact our Chester County DUI lawyers today at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422.