One of the more unique questions surrounding DUI law is whether or not Arizona drivers can be convicted of a DUI for taking their medication and driving. The short answer is that, yes, Arizonans can be charged and convicted of a DUI for driving under the influence of prescription medication. While drunk driving is far and away the most common form of DUI (and one of the most common causes of Arizona accidents), drugged driving is a dangerous and potentially devastating activity in its own right. Here are the facts you need to know about DUI charges for drugged driving.
Arizona Drugged Driving Laws
Under Arizona law, DUI convictions are a possibility for anyone who operates a motor vehicle under the influence of:
- Any illegal substance
- Any legal substance if impaired at the time of driving. R.S. §28-1381(A)(1)stipulates that Arizona drivers may not operate a motor vehicle if impaired to the slightest degree while driving under the influence of:
- Intoxicating liquor
- Any drug
- Vapor releasing substances containing toxic substances
- Any combination of the above
Based on this Arizona statute, you may be charged for a DUI for the use of a legal prescription if the drug was used beyond the scope of a doctor’s recommendation. Similarly, if the police officer believes the drug impaired your driving ability, a DUI may be forthcoming.
A second Arizona statute, A.R.S. §28-1381(A)(3), also applies to a potential DUI for drugged driving. This statute makes it illegal to drive based on drugs or their metabolites being found in a person’s body. These drugs, under A.R.S. §13-3401, include prescription medications without a prescription. Therefore, if you are taking a prescription medication that was prescribed to someone else and the drug was found in your system at the time of an accident, you could be charged with a DUI.
Arizona Penalties for Drugged Driving
Despite the relatively uncommon nature of a drugged driving DUI based on prescription usage, penalties are still mandatory under Arizona law. Worse, they can be severe penalties as well. A first offense for a drug-related DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Convictions for a Class 1 offense include punishments of up to 6 months in jail, fines of approximately $1,800, a 90-day license suspension, community service and a required ignition interlock for a period of 12 months. Additionally, convicted defendants may be placed on probation for a period of up to 5 years.
For a second offense, the convicted defendant may be punished by the following:
- Jail time of up to 6 months
- Approximately $3,500 in fines and costs
- A revocation of the driver’s license for 1 year
- A substance abuse evaluation
- Up to 5 years of probation
- Mandatory community service
- Mandatory attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victims Impact Panel
- 1 year of a required ignition interlock device
Finally, if a defendant is convicted of a DUI for the third time within a 7 year period or is convicted with a suspended license, the DUI becomes an aggravated felony. Punishments can then result in:
- A mandatory minimum of four months in prison
- State seizure of the vehicle
- Up to $150,000 fines
- A revoked license for 3 years
- 5 years of probation
Given the severity of a DUI prescribed medication charge, if you are arrested for a DUI in Phoenix, it is imperative that you seek the help of an Phoenix DUI attorney if you have been charged with driving under the influence of a prescribed medication.
The team at Tyler Allen Law Firm has experience with DUI charges just like yours and we will work with you to make sure your rights are protected and that you get the best possible outcome for your situation. If you find yourself facing a DUI after taking prescription medication, give us a call for representation you can rely on.