DUI – It’s Not JUST About Alcohol

by cbennett on November 8, 2012

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The first thing that comes to mind when someone receives a DUI charge is alcohol intoxication, but alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a driving under the influence charge. Intoxication can include the influence of prescription medicines as well as illegal controlled substances. It is also important to understand that intoxicated driving charges can be the result of daily medications, even if the medications are taken under a doctor’s direction.

Legal Substances

Most legal drugs that can constitute a driving under the influence charge are classified in two categories. Those are benzodiazipines and narcotics. According to our NJ dui attorney, Narcotics are commonly associated with hard drugs such as heroin and morphine, while “benzos” are associated with tranquilizers like valium and xanax. These medications are prescribed regularly by many physicians and are often dispensed on a daily basis. These medications also carry a “half-life” that extends beyond the actual time period of chemical impact. It is easy for a patient under legal doctor’s medication to actually and technically be driving under the influence at any point in time. This is not always obvious to a police officer, but if the officer requests a blood sample from a suspected impaired driver the chemical concentration could reflect intoxication. Luckily, many prosecutors do not pursue DUI charges in cases such as these, but it surely can happen. This is especially true when the driver is directly under the influence of the medication.

Illegal Substances

The first and most common drug that comes to mind other than alcohol in impaired driving cases is marijuana. Marijuana is illegal across the entire United States, with the exception of the states that have legalized medical marijuana. This is still a sensitive subject with the enforcement of federal law as the supreme law of the land. Regardless of the legal status, driving under the influence of marijuana can be proven in court by blood work or the officer’s observance. If the officer detects the smell of marijuana smoke, then the driver of the vehicle could easily be subject to charges. In addition, a possession of a controlled substance charge can be material evidence in any driving under the influence case. Also included in this class of controlled substances is cocaine and heroin. Morphine could be included in this group, but it is also dispensed legally as a basic medication or in simulated forms. It is never prescribed as heroin. Heroin is actually the street name of this substance when it is possessed illegally.

Power of Accusation

It is important to understand that driving under the influence is much more encompassing than mere alcohol intoxication. It is never a good decision to drive a vehicle under the influence of any mediation that creates drowsiness and all that is actually needed in court is the officer’s testimony. Police officers are not just officers of the department. Their authority rests in the fact that they are sworn officers of the court and the testimony of an officer is not questioned because of this status.

It is also important to understand that fighting a DUI case in court will require the retaining of an experienced and effective attorney that can prepare a solid defense for any defendant that is charged with driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. Do not be deceived into thinking that an impaired driving charge is only associated with alcohol.

Chris Bennett is a DWI rights advocate and contributing author for NJ dui attorney, Evan M. Levow. If you are arrested for a DWI in New Jersey, it is vital that you retain experienced representation to ensure the best outcome for your case. Evan M. Levow knows how to properly handle a DWI case and will protect your rights.




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