Driving under the influence (DUI) can be very dangerous for both you and everyone else on the road. For this reason, those accused of doing so can face a wide range of long-lasting consequences. While DUI charges may be treated as misdemeanors in New Jersey, that does not mean they should be taken lightly, especially if you have previous offenses. However, while drunk driving is the most likely way to get charged with a DUI, it most certainly is not the only way. Illegal drug use can also adversely affect your ability to drive, which can be considered a DUI conviction. It should also be noted that this can apply to legally prescribed drugs as well. If you are taking any legal medical prescription that can impact your motor skills, that could give law enforcement probable cause to pull you over if they see you demonstrating typical signs of impaired driving. If you have recently been charged with a DUI due to driving while on a legally prescribed drug, get in touch with a Gloucester County DWI lawyer at The Vigilante Law Firm to learn more about your case.
Why would I get a DUI for driving while on a legally prescribed drug?
Generally, being “under the influence” does not just pertain to drunk driving. If a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely is drastically hindered by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two, that can legally be considered a DUI. Many types of prescription medications can have side effects that can impair a driver’s motor skills, judgment, concentration, and alertness. Because of this, if a police officer sees any indication that you are not driving with complete control of your vehicle, it will raise suspicion and give them reasonable cause to pull you over. Even if you are taking a legally prescribed drug, New Jersey state laws do not make exceptions for them regarding DUI cases.
What are some potential defenses against a prescription drug DUI?
Although, while the penalties for a DUI will remain relatively the same whether it was due to alcohol or legally prescribed drugs, your ability to challenge it in court is not. For example, in New Jersey, any DUI offense involving the use of prescription drugs must be proven based on the confirmation of a drug recognition expert (DRE). A DRE will usually require a wide array of tests to determine the type of drug and level of impairment. If no DRE report is presented, then the case will likely be thrown out. Depending on the case, it is also possible that driving while under the influence of a drug prescribed by a physician could be considered a mitigating circumstance which may lead to lighter penalties. Regardless of the situation, you will need strong legal counsel throughout the process.