What Percentage Of DUI Cases Are Due To Illegal Or Prescription Drugs?
This is actually becoming a much higher percentage than it used to be. We are seeing a very high rise in that area, especially with the rise in abuse of prescription medications or people not paying attention to what they are taking and taking it in different dosages than the doctor had recommended.
We are generally seeing a rise, nationally, in the numbers of teens and others who are taking medications that were not prescribed for them, so this can sometimes become an issue. Even if marijuana was legal, the person would still have a problem because they would need to have a prescription for it if they were under the influence and their ability to drive was impaired. They would not have a problem if they just took a couple of hits of a joint, but they would have a problem if the police officer pulled them over and they tested positive.
We are definitely also seeing a very high number of people who are taking drugs that were prescribed to them but they are taking more than they should. An example would be someone who was given a certain anti-anxiety drug medication for a good reason by a doctor but then decided by themselves that they would just double or triple their dose while they were feeling really anxious.
Another situation is when the person did not read the side of the bottle that stated the drug should not be mixed with alcohol. People get surprised and say they do not understand what happened because they only took their prescription medication and three glasses of wine, because this had never happened to them before, whereas they would not have realized that the interaction between the alcohol and the drugs would actually cause a big problem.
This is something we are starting to see a lot more of, and I think that as people become dizzier and more stressed, there tends to be an increase in what we see in national studies of people being prescribed different sets of medications and getting more medications prescribed to them than they would have been in the past, because there are more people out there who are driving while they are on prescription medications. The medications may not affect their ability to drive, but in some instances it might.
Everybody should be very careful and someone who was on a prescription medication, whether it was an antibiotic, an anti-anxiety drug or an antidepressant, should make sure they knew what they were doing and they would need to be careful with regards to driving.
Are These Cases More Difficult To Defend?
This would depend because there are different types of cases. I had a case not long ago where somebody was prescribed certain medications by their doctor. It was a new medication and the doctor was testing out different levels and dosage levels to see which would be the best for the patient. The person did not notice or did not pay attention to the warning on the side of the bottle that warned to not operate a motor vehicle while taking that medication.
This is something which needs to be addressed because it can become a very serious problem. These kinds of cases have their own set of issues because the person would be done if they took a urine test or a blood test and the drug was found present in their system, because they would not look for the amounts, they would just be looking for presence of that drug in the system. The person would be charged and then we would have to go back and try to figure out what brought that about and how to handle it.
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