Alcohol, illegal drugs, and medication can intoxicate a driver.
A widespread misconception is that people only illegally operate a vehicle intoxicated if they consume alcohol or illegal drugs. Under Michigan law, intoxication can also be a result of prescription medication.
Operating Under the Influence of Prescription Medication (or a combination of medicine and alcohol or drugs).
Too often, individuals driving under the influence of medication do so mistakenly or unknowingly. Drunk driving, or “DUI,” is commonly warned against through widespread media campaigns, most often targeted at youth who are most susceptible. Driving under the influence of medication gets less recognition despite the consequences of driving under the influence of medication being just as serious.
Perhaps you are driving under the influence of medication and not even realizing it! Prescription drugs such as Xanax and Ambien, while recommended and prescribed by a physician, can lead to drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, memory problems, and overall disorientation. Driving under the influence of medication is a mistake many individuals make unknowingly, without forethought, since they are taking a legal, prescription drug to help them function better. Mixing marijuana and other controlled substances with prescription medications can also impair your driving ability. Antihistamines, antidepressants, and decongestants, which most of us take at some point, can get you a DUI or OWI charge if caught by law enforcement. Because prescription drugs impact each individual’s level of alertness differently, driving under the influence is an innocent mistake that individuals don’t realize is a mistake until it’s too late.
Defending Clients Charged with Operating While Intoxicated by Prescription Medications
Experienced criminal defense lawyers, such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., defend clients charged with driving under the influence of prescription medication in several ways. Some of the most common defense strategies employed by our team when defending clients include:
- Challenging the stop or arrest. If the police officer did not have a valid reason to stop our client’s vehicle, or if the arrest was improper, we can fight to get the charges dismissed.
- Argue that the client was not impaired. Depending on the circumstances, our team can present evidence that our client was taking their medication as prescribed and the medicines did not unlawfully impair their driving ability. This evidence may include testimony from experts, the introduction of medical records, and the results from blood or other forensic tests.
- Argue that the client did not know they were impaired. If the client took the medication as prescribed and was not aware of any impairing side effects or there was an unexpected impairment, we can argue their intoxication was “involuntary.”
- Negotiate a plea deal. If we cannot get the charges dismissed, our lawyers can switch tactics and negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor and/or judge. A plea deal might involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge or agreeing to certain conditions, such as completing a drug and alcohol treatment program. The defense lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have an unparalleled track record for getting OWI charges reduced and dismissed.
Our specific defense strategy will depend on the facts of the case and our client’s circumstances. It is important to note that criminal defense lawyers are not there to judge their clients. They are there to represent their client’s interests and to ensure that their clients receive fair treatment and the benefit of every possible advantage in and out of court. If you face driving under the influence of prescription medication allegations, it is vital to consult with a reputable criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Avoid Jail Time with OWI Charges
Many individuals facing charges for operating while intoxicated, OWI, or Driving Under the Influence of Medication will likely be sentenced to jail or prison if convicted. With the insight and carefulness that a skilled and tenacious legal team can provide, the sentence can be minimized to a fine, community service, counseling, or a temporarily suspended driver’s license. Sometimes, the charges may be dismissed or reduced to non-alcohol-related charges. You need the strategy and knowledge only an experienced attorney team can provide. Our lawyers have extensive experience and a well-known reputation for making compelling arguments and persuading judges to focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment.
Police officers rarely arrest and charge someone suspected of driving under the influence of prescription medication. Arrests for driving under the influence of prescription medication are rare because it takes time for the Michigan State Police laboratory to provide a chemical analysis of the accused blood sample. Once the sample is submitted to the lab, the officer holds the report pending the outcome. If the toxicology report shows a substantial level of a prescription medication, the police officer or a detective will submit the report to the local or state prosecutor for charges. Once a warrant is issued, they will arrest the defendant or allow them to self-surrender.
Should someone arrested and released for suspicion of OWI hire a lawyer proactively or wait to see what happens? It is essential that someone in this situation hire a seasoned pre-charge defense lawyer right away. When hired on a pre-charge basis, the attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. immediately jump into action to defend and protect the client. For example, we do all of the following:
- contact the officer in charge to secure an agreement for the client to self-surrender instead of getting arrested,
- contact the prosecutor to negotiate for reduced charges or to avoid charges when possible,
- consult with the client to take actions that can mitigate any damage and help facilitate a positive outcome,
- help the client understand the process and answer important questions, and
- conduct an investigation to preserve or obtain favorable evidence and prevent the government from destroying exculpatory evidence.
Top-Rated Attorneys with Years of Experience Defending Against Driving Under the Influence of Medication Charges
The attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have years of experience defending clients facing DUI, OWI, drunk driving, and drug and controlled substance crimes, including drug possession. While hiring a well-known and successful attorney will likely be more costly than a court-appointed or general practice attorney, can you really put a price tag on your freedom, reputation, driving privileges, and future? With a thorough understanding of Michigan DUI and OWI laws and defenses, the Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C can successfully protect and defend you.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.