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.
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.
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.