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DC Prescription Drug DUI Lawyer

A DUI in Washington, DC can be the result of the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two, even if the drugs are not illegal. For instance, if prescription drugs have an impairing effect on an individual’s ability to drive, the consumption of prescription drugs could result in driving under the influence charges in the same way as operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or illegal drugs.

Prescription drugs are defined as any controlled substance that can be consumed legally by a person with the approval of a licensed medical professional. Even if an individual has the legal ability to consume prescription drugs, such as prescription pain killers or sleeping pills, legal consumption can also result in that individual being charged with and convicted of driving under the influence.

A DC Prescription drug DUI lawyer needs to be aware of the specifics of DC DUI laws in order to be able to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a prosecutor’s case in an allegation of this nature. These cases can be very complicated under DC rules and procedures. No person should put themselves in a position to attempt to fight such charges on his or her own.

Elements of the Charge

For a person to be charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, the prosecutor needs to be able to prove that person was impaired to an appreciable degree by the consumption of prescription drugs while in physical control of his or her vehicle.

Even if that person had a valid prescription for the medication, driving after consuming the medication can still result in the same driving under the influence charge as if he or she had consumed alcohol. This is true as long as the prosecutors can prove that the prescription medications had an impairing effect on that person’s ability to drive the vehicle. It is the role of a prescription drug DUI attorney, in DC, to prevent the prosecution from establishing these elements of proof.

Possible Penalties in DC

The penalties for driving under the influence of a prescription drug are the same as the penalties for any other driving under the influence charge. For a first offense, a person would face a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail or a maximum fine of $1,000.00 or both. Such penalties would increase for second or subsequent arrests for driving under the influence. If a person is alleged to be under the influence of a schedule one drug, then that person could face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 days of jail time, even on a first offense.

Drug Recognition Expert

If the police believe a person is driving under the influence of some kind of prescription drug, they could call in a drug recognition expert as a part of their on-scene investigation. A drug recognition expert receives specific training in how to recognize if a person might be under the influence of certain kinds of prescription or illegal drugs. That drug recognition expert would look for certain clues of impairment that he or she believes are specifically associated with certain kinds of medications.

That drug recognition expert would then be called to testify in the person’s DUI trial. This testimony would include the expert’s background and training to recognize impairment by specific controlled substances and the evidence he or she believe supports the conclusion that the person was driving under the influence of that specific controlled substance.

Drug Charges Without a Prescription

A person can be charged with driving under the influence of any controlled substance, whether or not they have a prescription for that controlled substance. However, if a person is alleged to have been driving under the influence of medication for which they have a prescription, such a prescription could be used to mitigate the circumstances and help a DUI defense lawyer present their client in a more sympathetic light in order to decrease the potential penalties associated with driving under the influence. A person who has been convicted of driving under the influence of a prescription drug for which they do not have a valid prescription might be seen as a less sympathetic defendant in the eyes of the prosecutor or the judge.

Providing Prescription Information to the Attorney

A DC prescription drug DUI lawyer would need to have copies of a person’s prescriptions and any medical reports showing that they need those prescription drugs. Such documents would allow the lawyer to be able to discuss any relevant issues with the prosecutor.

A person’s medical history could hold the key to a defense against an allegation of driving under the influence. It is very important for a DC prescription drug DUI lawyer to be aware of any medical issues a person has, as well as any medications a person was taking when they were arrested for driving under the influence, and to provide any relevant documentation. A lawyer would need to consider whether the evidence obtained by the police was consistent with the consumption of a specific medication or whether such evidence may have been caused by some other medical issue that would not result in a person being convicted of driving under the influence.

Sometimes, there can be confusion between a person being impaired by the consumption of prescription drugs and a person showing symptoms of an underlying medical issue. A person cannot be charged with driving under the influence if his or her impairment was a result of an underlying medical issue, rather than a result of the consumption of a prescription drug meant to treat a medical issue.

Knowing the difference between the two is very important. A DC prescription drug DUI attorney must understand the nature of a person’s medical history in order to determine if any defenses to the prosecutor’s allegations exist in his or her medical history.

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