Most New Jersey drivers are aware of the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol. However, some people might not know that you can receive a DUI/DWI charge even without the presence of alcohol or illegal drugs. New Jersey courts define DWIs as operating a vehicle while impaired by liquor or a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug. Prescription drugs fall under the category of narcotics. Have you recently been charged with a DWI for driving while taking a prescribed drug? Read this blog to learn how a Mercer County DUI Lawyer may be able to help you today!
AM I AT RISK OF GETTING A DWI FOR DRIVING WHILE TAKING A PRESCRIBED DRUG?
Yes, you could receive a DWI charge if you drive under the influence of prescription drugs. New Jersey DUI laws and consequences tend to be stricter than in other states. Intoxication is defined as a substantial decrease in mental and physical capabilities as a result of alcohol or drugs. So, if a prescription drug is causing you to drive unsafely because of side effects, this would be considered driving while intoxicated. Examples of medications that could impair a driver’s ability include opioid pain relievers, central nervous system depressants, and stimulants prescribed for ADHD. Some of these prescription drugs could cause drowsiness, blurred vision, fainting, inability to focus, and/or slowed movement, all of which could prevent someone from driving safely.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET CHARGED WITH A DWI FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS?
Let’s say you’re driving after taking a prescription medication, and side effects cause you to swerve through lanes or other commit another driving error. A police officer might pull you over thinking you’re drunk and would likely perform a breathalyzer. Because breathalyzers only show alcohol in a person’s system, the police officer would need to perform a blood or urine test in order to detect drugs in your system. You could be fined or even lose your license for refusing a blood test, so the best option is to comply with the officer. It’s important to note that blood and urine tests aren’t enough to prove that you were driving “under the influence”, and a drug recognition expert would need to perform tests to determine which drug was causing the impairment. Typically, you can’t be proven guilty unless drug detection tests are performed, and some officers neglect the effort to find a drug recognition expert.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you should immediately contact a trusted criminal defense lawyer. An experienced DUI lawyer might be able to help you reduce or even dismiss the charges. Thankfully, the Law Office of Douglas Herring is here to fight for you! Contact our firm today for an initial consultation.