This is an interesting question because it comes up all the time now as authorities – especially in Los Angeles – crack down on people who are drinking and driving, smoking Marijuana and driving and taking drugs and driving.
People would think – and I think rightfully so – that why would you get in trouble if you take a prescription that was prescribed by your doctor and you end up having some bad reaction and you crash and the police get you and try to claim that you are driving under the influence.
Unfortunately, if you're driving under the influence of anything – even prescribed medication and you cannot safely operate a motor vehicle – then you can be held accountable for a DUI in Los Angeles.
However, there are arguments of what's called involuntary intoxication. Voluntary intoxication is not a defense to most crimes in California as it relates to DUI's and otherwise. But involuntary intoxication where somebody become intoxicated and it's not really their fault and they end up hurting somebody and getting a DUI, then that could be used as a complete defense to a DUI in Los Angeles.
So, it really just kind of depends on the circumstances. Some prescriptions say on them, don't use this prescription and drive. Obviously, if you do use a prescription and drive, you can be charged with a DUI in Los Angeles.
Other prescriptions don't say anything about it. But people are going to get in trouble when they start doing stuff like taking prescription medication and mixing alcohol with it, taking too much of their medication.
If you're going to take an Ambien and then get in the car and drive, you're just asking for trouble. I can't tell you how many people I've seen crash into the center divider after they've taken an Ambien. You're going to be held responsible for a DUI.
So, it doesn't necessarily matter that you're taking a prescribed medication if you're taking it in an improper way or the prosecutors don't care. They're going to look and say, wait a minute. Why is your person getting in the car and driving if this is the reaction that this medication has?
So, then you get into a debate over what reaction are you talking about? Just because the police think that they're under the influence of something doesn't necessarily mean they are. Now you get into the argument of okay, well how did they do on the field sobriety test related to the DUI? What was found in their system?
Are you able to determine what the concentration was in the person's system? There are all sorts of different issues and defenses that can come up when it comes to prescription medication in DUI cases.
Defenses To A Prescription Medication DUI
The best defense as I've indicated is, listen, I didn't know this was going to give me this reaction. The doctor didn't fully explain it. It's not explained on the bottle, so therefore, I'm involuntarily intoxicated.
I didn't realize this was going to happen. I shouldn't be held responsible for this DUI. That is potential defense, obviously, if the circumstances are ripe and make sense for the defense.
Another defense to prescription medication DUI is that you didn't take anything that other people haven't taken and that you didn't feel any effects and that you were not DUI. In other words, you could pass all their field sobriety tests.
In other words, you didn't blow any alcohol, any Marijuana. You had a prescribed medication with no restrictions on it as far as driving went and the police were just simply wrong when they're trying to claim that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle.
When it comes to these prescription medication cases, the police's observation are the main things that the prosecutors are relying on. How were they walking? How were they talking? How were they driving? When their drug recognition expert comes out and tests them related to the prescription medication DUI, how does that person say they did? What are the reasons or the rationale behind that?
There are all sorts of different issues that can come up in these prescription DUI cases. Your best bet is to get in front of an attorney who has handled these cases, is local to the courthouse where your case is pending and can do everything necessary and pull out all the stops for you because nobody wants a DUI, even if it does have to do with prescription medication.