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April 10, 2015

Can a person be arrested for a DUID, driving under the influence of drugs, when he or she has only ingested medication that is prescribed by a doctor? The answer is a resounding “yes”. When dealing with DUID based on medication, the law focuses on the nature of the medication consumed and whether is impairs a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Common drugs that people take that cause a DUID are various forms of Benzodiazepines (commonly referred to as Benzos) including Ambien, Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, just to name a few. These drugs used to treat many ailments including anxiety, sleep disorders, and convulsions. The effects of taking these medications include relaxation, sedation, and sleep.


The way that a DUID arrest occurs is very similar to an alcohol related DUI. As with other DUIs, the officer approached the suspected impaired driver. If the officer believes he observes signs of impairment (slow/slurred speech) or slow exaggerated movements, the officer will initiate a series of tests. Typically, the officer will be a certified DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) and trained to do certain tests.

The officer usually tests vital signs and divided attention. Vital signs tested include pupil size by use of a pupilometer, body temperature, and pulse.

For divided attention testing, the officer will have the subject perform various field sobriety tests including the walk and turn test.


After the officer completes his testing of the subject (assuming the subject submits to the testing), the officer will ask him or her to submit to a breath test. If the test shows a bac of .00, then the officer will request either a blood or urine test. The results of the subsequent testing will determine whether the person will be charged with DUI drugs.


Is all hope lost if you are prescribed Benzodiazepines? Absolutely not. It is not per se illegal to drive with these drugs in your system. The key is working with your doctor to find out a safe way that you can take the medications and operate a motor vehicle within the purview of the law. For instance, the doctor may state that they can only be taken at night time before bed or on an as needed basis as long as not taken within 8 hours of driving.


Well, I hope you found this recent edition of the DUI blog helpful to understanding complicated nature of DUI defense and the growing area of DUI drugs. Stay tuned for the next edition. Drive safe! If arrested for DUI, call or contact us right away!

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Top Gun DUI Defense Attorney Myles L. Berman

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