At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, we have been representing those charged with DUI for nearly twenty years. Our founding Forsyth County DUI lawyer Richard S. Lawson is more than your average attorney; he dedicates his entire practice to the field of DUI defense. As Georgia's premier DUI defense firm, we are proud to stay abreast of all recent developments in DUI laws, including those involving illegal drugs and prescription drugs.
In recent years we have seen more DUI-drug arrests than ever before. We believe that an increasing percentage of our population is on medication at any given time. Part of this is due to the fact that our elderly are living longer than they did a generation or two ago. In order to better meet their needs, most elderly adults are on several medications at a time. Another reason is the great increase of men and women who are taking medication for conditions such as pain, muscle aches, ADHD, depression, anxiety and insomnia. With the increasing pool of medicated drivers, there are more people at risk of being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, whether they are illicit or prescribed by a doctor.
Questioning DUI-Drug Arrests
People can be arrested for driving under the influence of any illegal or legal drug, even over-the-counter allergy and cold medicines. Why the sudden increase in DUI-drug arrests and what has changed? There are a few factors that have led to the changing of the times. First off, with the advent of anti-drinking and driving campaigns such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), the number of drunk drivers has actually decreased over the years. Second, with the increase of our medicated population, more people are driving under the influence of lawfully prescribed and over-the-counter medications than in the past.
Most people already know that it's unlawful to drive while under the influence of marijuana, or cocaine, or methamphetamines. However, most people are shocked to find out they can be arrested for driving under the influence of a lawfully prescribed medication. The frightening part is that police officers have a tremendous amount of freedom when it comes to assessing a person's level of impairment of a legal or illegal drug. These assumptions are usually based on subjective opinions and are often times incorrect. This is a troubling development in DUI law because there aren't any studies to date that quantify any illegal or legal drug use with driving impairment level. Furthermore, the standardized field sobriety tests that police officers use roadside aren't designed to detect impairment by drugs.
Prescription Drugs & DUI Arrests in Forsyth County
With alcohol-related DUI cases, the courts and prosecution rely on "per se" to pursue a conviction. Under the law, it's illegal to operate an automobile with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, which is referred to as "per se." Drug cases don't have the per se level of impairment to fall back on. Presently, no quantitative amount of any drug or substance creates a known level of impairment.
Even if a blood test is taken and it shows that the driver had a high level of a prescription drug in their system, neither a toxicologist or a lab witness can state that the drug level means that the person was impaired. This is extremely important to the defense, and it makes it much more difficult for the prosecution to prove. The prosecutor must show that the driver was impaired and if they cannot, then they have not met the burden of proving the driver was "under the influence." For superior defense representation against your DUI charges, contact our office as soon as possible.
Were you arrested in Forsyth County? If so, contact a Forsyth County prescription drugs & DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson.