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What Happens After Someone Is Charged With Prescription Medication DUI?

The Law Office Phillips & Allen PA Nov. 20, 2022

Are There Different Charges That You Can Face If You Have Someone Else’s Prescription Bottle On You At The Time You’re Pulled Over?

In Maryland, under the statute, you actually are required to keep your prescription medicine that you get from the pharmacist in the bottle that you got from the pharmacist. This is where the seniors want to mark it if they get pulled over by an officer and in one way or another, they have their ‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday’ pill containers that they get and they put their medications in them, and technically, that’s illegal.

You have to keep your pills in your pill bottle and unless you’re carrying your meds for your child, you really shouldn’t be carrying medication for someone else unless it’s for a specific purpose like mom came to visit and left her heart medication at the house and you’re running to your mom before she has a problem.

Are Prescription Drug Medication DUIs Harder To Defend Or Are They Harder For The Prosecution To Actually Prove?

The main point is whether or not they get a drug recognition expert there. If they aren’t able to get a drug recognition expert on it, then that’s a great case to have and defend. If they get a drug recognition expert on it, then it comes down to attacking the findings of the drug recognition expert.

What Are The Major Differences In Terms Of Defense Between An Alcohol DUI Case Versus Medication DUI?

Yes and no. The alcohol cases have a more complicated structure to them. The first thing they have to do is they have to have probable cause to make the stop, which is usually some kind of traffic infraction, crossing the W.L line, not using a blinker or a taillight’s out, something to that effect. That applies to both cases.

The officer got to have probable cause to make the stop. Once the stop’s occurred, they need to establish a reason why they think someone’s drinking or on drugs. With drinking, it’s usually the glassy eyes, slurred speech, the smell of odor of alcohol.

With drugs, it’s harder. If they smell marijuana, they smell the cracked cocaine or methamphetamine that opens up the door. But it’s a little harder for them. They know that they’re going to have to make some observations around someone’s eye-hand coordination or balance or something to that effect.

With the alcohol stop, it generally leads directly to the field sobriety tests and then there is some attack that can be made on how the officer gave the instructions, how he scored the test, whether or not there is a video. It’s huge, and more often than not, the videos help rather than hurt because an attorney will see mistakes and how the officer’s giving the test.

What Is A Preliminary Breath Test?

Maryland also has very specific informative warning that the officers have to give before they give the Preliminary Breath Test, the PBT, is a little handheld test. They have to warn people that they can take this test or they cannot take this test, and if they refuse to take that PBT, it has no impact on their driver’s license, it has no impact on their right to take or refuse the breath test back at the station, and that’s a common error that the police make but usually a video is needed to get to that point.

In drunk driving cases, there is a timeline in terms when they make the stop to when they actually give the final breath test. There is also an observation timeline, they’re making observations of the person and it has to be at least 20 minutes to make sure the person hasn’t put in anything in their mouth, taken anything out of their mouth, they haven’t done anything that will affect the test.

The most common thing is burping or if someone vomits a little bit, that can throw the test off dramatically and not in a good way. So, there has to be an observation.

In most cases, the officer’s observation time will start at the time of the stop. The problem with that is when they put the person at the back of the car, and they’re driving down the road, they’re obviously not observing them during that time. So you have to look at the timeline.

“Okay, how long did it take the officer to get from the point of arrest to the station, and were they in the station at least 20 minutes to show that there was that observation?” Then they have to give the warnings for the breath test and the person either consents or refuses.

With the drug test, there is some overlap and it’s somewhat uncharted. Field sobriety tests are more challengeable against the drug case than they are in the alcohol case because they are not really designed for drugs.

The law is you cannot drive while under the influence or impaired, the law is not that you have to be able to pass field sobriety tests to be able to drive because a lot of people can’t pass those things stone cold sober. At least 50 percent of the people on the road couldn’t pass one of those field sobriety tests stone cold sober.

It really revolves around the drug recognition expert and whether they get one there or whether he is actually certified and looking at the details of his findings and his observations and does it match up with what drugs were taken.

In any of these driving cases, it’s not illegal to be impaired necessarily, it’s illegal to drive being impaired and was the person driving badly? If it’s a short stop, officer sees someone speeding, they pull them over, that doesn’t necessarily make a defense but if the officers pick someone out and they’re following for 15 miles and the person does nothing wrong until they failed the signal, that begs the question, is this person really impaired because they just drove for 15 miles and they didn’t do anything wrong other than the traffic infraction that sober people make all the time?

Are The Penalties The Same As The DUI In Maryland For A DUI Involving Prescription?

For the most part, it’s very similar.

If you need more information on what to do When Charged With A Prescription Medication DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking talk Arnold F. Phillips by calling today.