Prescription Drugs DUI Defense

When we hear ‘DUI,’ we usually think of alcohol. Moreover, in the years since Colorado moved to legalize recreational marijuana, there has been some buzz about driving under the influence of marijuana. But some are surprised to learn that they can be arrested and charged for driving under the influence of prescription drugs – even those that are entirely legal and medically necessary for a condition they have. As long as it impairs your ability to drive, it opens you up to charges of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D).

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs in Colorado Springs, you need legal help now. Functionally, the law treats DUI-D with prescription drugs the same way it would a normal DUI with alcohol, so your situation is just as urgent as if you had been accused of driving drunk. Colorado Springs DUI-D prescription drugs defense attorney Christian A. Schwaner is ready to help you fight these serious charges. As a former prosecutor, he understands the way DUI-D charges are handled from both sides, and has the experience needed to build you a strong defense. Contact Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. to start fighting back against your charges today.

Understanding DUI-D prescription drug charges

You may think of driving under the influence of prescription drugs as a different issue from driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or illegal drugs, but in fact, Colorado law lumps them all into the same category. Even the term ‘DUI-D’ instead of just ‘DUI’ is simply a way to distinguish between two ways of committing the same crime. State law defines DUI as “driving a motor vehicle or vehicle when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”

Note how the law makes no distinction between types of drugs. If you are accused of DUI-D for driving after taking perfectly legal drugs that your doctor prescribed you, you have been accused of the same crime as someone who drove under the influence of alcohol, or even cocaine or methamphetamines. You will be prosecuted in the same way as these other offenders, and if convicted, you will be punished to the same extent as them. You cannot afford to let these charges go without a fight.

DWAI charges and prescription drugs

Another crime some people may not know about until they’ve been charged with it is DWAI, or driving while ability impaired. This charge is essentially a lesser version of DUI. You do not need to be totally unable to drive to be charged with DWAI. The law defines DWAI exactly the same way as DUI, except that to be charged with it, a person only needs to be impaired “to the slightest degree so that the person is less able than the person ordinarily would have been, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” Again, it does not matter if you are taking drugs legally prescribed by your doctor. If your prescriptions even slightly impair your ability to drive and you are pulled over, you can be charged with DWAI and punished to the same extent of someone who had been drinking or doing illegal drugs.

Which drugs should I avoid?

Any drug that at all impairs your ability to drive can lead to a DUI charge. If a drug impairs your decision-making, motor control, or causes drowsiness, it is best not to drive while taking it. Some common prescription drugs that can impair drivers include:

  • Sleeping Pills (even the next morning)
  • Hydrocodone
  • Antidepressants
  • Valium
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines

Read the warning labels on your prescriptions and talk to your doctor if you have any doubt about whether it is safe to drive while taking your prescription drugs.

Penalties for DUI-D and DWAI with prescription drugs in Colorado Springs

If you have been charged with DUI-D or DWAI for prescription drugs in Colorado Springs, you could face serious penalties – the same penalties given to drunk drivers. The penalties will also get worse with each subsequent offense. Here are the penalties for DUI-D and DWAI with prescription drugs in Colorado:

DUI-D (first offense)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 96 hours of community service
  • License suspension for up to 9 months

DUI-D (second offense)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,500 in fines
  • Up to 120 hours of community service
  • License suspension for up to 1 year

DUI-D (third or subsequent offense)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,500 in fines
  • Up to 120 hours of community service
  • License suspension for up to 2 years

DWAI (first offense)

  • Up to 180 days in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 48 hours of community service
  • 8 points on your DMV record toward a license suspension

DWAI (second or subsequent offense)

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,500 in fines
  • Up to 120 hours of community service
  • 8 points on your DMV record toward a license suspension

Think about what could happen to your life if you have to spend months to years in jail, pay hundreds to thousands of dollars in fines, spend dozens of hours on community service, and lose your ability to drive. You cannot afford these penalties. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs in Colorado Springs, you need the help of an experienced defense attorney today.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

Being charged with DUI-D after taking perfectly legal prescription drugs can come as a shock, but ignorance of the law is not a defense you can use. You need a defense attorney who understands the methods prosecutors will use to try to convict you and the strategies that will help you to fight back. Colorado Springs DUI-D prescription drugs defense attorney Christian A. Schwaner has a deep understanding of the law and how to best minimize your chance of conviction or minimize the penalties you face. For more information and to set up a free consultation, call Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. today at (719) 577-9700.