If you have a chronic health condition or a serious illness, it is likely that you take a prescription drug to manage or treat it. These drugs are lawful to use as directed if you have a valid prescription.
Still, some of these drugs have side effects that can affect you physically or mentally. If you take a prescription drug, drive and are pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving you might be arrested for driving under the influence. Does it matter to your DUI defense, then, if you had a valid prescription to take that drug at the time of your arrest?
Drug DUIs in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, you cannot operate a motor vehicle if there is any amount of Schedule I drug in your system. Some examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD.
In addition, you cannot operate a vehicle if there is any amount of a Schedule II drug or Schedule III drug in your system that you do not have a prescription for. Schedule II drugs include substances such as methamphetamines and oxycodone, while Schedule III drugs include substances such as ketamine and Vicodin.
With regards to Schedule I drugs, and Schedule II and Schedule III drugs for which you do not have a valid prescription, the level of drug in your system does not matter nor does it matter whether you are intoxicated by the drug. You can still get a DUI.
In addition, in Pennsylvania, you cannot operate a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of a drug that impairs your ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner. This is true even if you have a valid prescription for the drug.
Some prescription drugs affect our mental and physical capacities. They might make us dizzy, sleepy or disoriented. Generally, there are warnings labels on these drugs directing users not to drive while using them.
So, you could legally take a prescription drug that impairs you mentally or physically, making it unsafe for you to operate a motor vehicle. If you drive under these conditions, you might get a DUI.
Having a legal prescription for the drug alone might not be enough for a solid DUI defense. Still, there are other ways you could form a defense strategy to fight the DUI charges against you.