Driving Under the Influence of Medication
A person can be arrested, charged and convicted for driving under the influence of prescription or over the counter medication in violation of California Vehicle Code section 23152, subdivision (a). In fact, any substance which causes impairment in the view of the California Superior Court may support a driving under the influence conviction. One such conviction occurred after the driver drank tea which caused him to feel drowsy.
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In driving under the influence of medication cases, the second drunk driving with alcohol violation is not charged. Accordingly, lawyers from our office need only defend against a single charge. However, driving under the influence of medication cases are more serious than drunk driving cases because if convicted, the superior court will notify the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the conviction. The superior court's notification will trigger a minimum one year DMV driver's license suspension. Additionally, unlike a drunk driving case involving alcohol, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue a restricted driver's license.
In DUI medication cases, the use of expert testimony can be cruicial. Our firm has extensive experience defending clients arrested for driving under the influence of medication. In our view, these cases require immediate consultation with a forensic toxicologist, pharmacologist, physician or other expert. Additionally, a retest of the blood seized by the California Highway Patrol officer, local police officer or county deputy sheriff is usually required. Otherwise, conviction for driving under the influence of medication is a near certainty.
Remember, there are risks to taking prescription or over the counter medication prior to driving. Additionally, some medications do contain alcohol. This can present special problems to drivers under twenty-one (21) years of age because of the zero tolerance laws which punish underage drivers for driving with any measurable amount of alcohol on their breath or in their blood. For drivers over twenty-one years of age, it is important to remember that driving after having taken medication can cause impairment as a matter of law which will support a driving under the influence conviction and lengthy DMV license suspension.