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Prescription Drug DUID

Defending Prescription Drug DUID Charges in Alexandria, VA & Washington, DC

Most people associate driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) with alcohol, but in both Alexandria, VA and the District of Columbia, you can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) if you take prescription drugs that interfere with your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Even though prescription medications are prescribed by your doctor, they can have serious side effects that may feel more intense than you anticipated. Although some medications have warning labels, the side effects can vary from person to person. Your doctor or pharmacist may not have fully advised you on the dangers of driving while taking your prescription drugs, increasing your likelihood of getting a prescription drug DUI.

If you have been arrested for prescription drug DUID in Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC, contact our defense attorney at S.L. England, PLLC online or by calling (202) 759-2333 to learn about your defense options.

Prescription Drug DUID Penalties

Operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription drugs falls under Alexandria, VA’s DUI law. The statute covers driving under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs, so the penalties are the same. They are as follows:

  • A first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $250.
  • A second offense within five years has a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and jail time of one month to one year, with a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail.
  • A second offense within five to 10 years has a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and jail time of not less than one month, with a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.
  • A third offense within 10 years is a Class 6 felony, with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail.
  • A fourth or subsequent offense within 10 years has a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and mandatory minimum one-year imprisonment.

The District of Columbia’s law defines “drug” as any chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body, including but not limited to a controlled substance as defined in § 48-901.02(4), and any prescription or non-prescription medication. DC law specifically prohibits operating or being in physical control of any vehicle in the District while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or any combination thereof.

Thus, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by prescription drugs will result in the same penalties as for alcohol-related DUIs. They include:

  • First offense: Punishable by up to $1,000 fines and/or a maximum of 180 days in jail.
  • Second offense: Punishable by $2,500 to $5,000 fines and/or 10 days to 1 year in jail.
  • Third offense: Punishable by $2,500 to $10,000 fines and/or 15 days to 1 year in jail.
  • Fourth offense: Punishable by up to $10,000 fines and an additional 30-day mandatory minimum term of incarceration for each additional violation.

Legal vs. Illegal Prescription Drug Possession

To legally possess prescription drugs in DC and Alexandria, VA, you must have a valid prescription from your doctor. If you possess prescription drugs that were not prescribed to you, you could be charged with possession of controlled substances in addition to DUID.

The penalties for possessing controlled substances depend on the specific prescription drug involved. All drugs are divided into categories, called schedules, based on their abuse or dependency potential as well as their accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and a high risk of dependency or abuse. Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse.

If you have prescription medication in your possession without a valid prescription from a doctor in Alexandria, VA, you could face the following penalties:

  • Schedule I or II: Class 5 felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison and fines up to $2,500.
  • Schedule III: Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
  • Schedule IV: Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
  • Schedule V: Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to $500 in fines.

In DC, you may be subject to spend 180 days in prison and/or pay $1,000 fines if you knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. These penalties may be enhanced depending on your criminal history, if applicable, and the type of prescription drug involved in your alleged offense.

Types of Prescription Drugs in DUID Cases

Common prescription medications associated with DUID include, but are not limited to:

Painkillers

  • Oxycontin
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl

Benzodiazepines

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Paxil
  • Halcion

Central Nervous System Stimulants

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Ephedrine

Muscle Relaxants

  • Soma
  • Flexeril

Possible Defenses to Your Accusations

Every person metabolizes prescription drugs differently, so the laws in DC and Alexandria, VA do not set a threshold that indicates impairment. Simply having a prescription drug in your system does not mean that you were driving impaired. To be convicted of DUID, the prosecution must prove to the judge or jury that you were impaired while operating a motor vehicle and that the prescription drug was the source of your impairment.

It is important to know that a blood test will determine if you had a prescription drug in your system at the time you were operating a motor vehicle. The person who collected your blood sample must be legally qualified to do so, use the correct blood tube, and maintain and calibrate the blood-collecting instrument properly. If the procedure is not followed exactly, our attorney can challenge the collection and instrumentation of your blood in addition to the chain of custody and integrity of your blood sample should you hire us to defend you.

We can also challenge the basis of your initial traffic stop that resulted in your prescription drug DUID charge if we determine that the arresting law enforcement officer did not have probable cause to stop your vehicle.

Contact a Proven Prescription Drug DUID Lawyer

If you have been charged with a prescription drug DUID in Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney from S.L. England, PLLC, to fight for you. We are well-aware the simply having a prescription drug in your system does not mean that the medication impaired your driving, therefore we will exhaust every legal option required to help you combat your charges.

Our attorney can challenge every detail of your prescription drug DUID charge, including the basis of the traffic stop, chain of custody, collection method, and instrumentation used to test your blood, for instance. When you contact our firm online or call (202) 759-2333 our defense lawyer will walk you through your legal options and propose a powerhouse defense strategy on your behalf.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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