DUI Prescription Drugs

DUI of Prescription Drugs in Pennsylvania

What Happens if You are Charged with Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Medication or Over-the-Counter Drugs?

Millions of people take prescription drugs every day and millions of others are prescribed medicines to take for short durations or directly after surgeries or being hospitalized. Even more people take OTC drugs (over-the-counter medication). And while many medicines do not affect your ability to drive a vehicle, several do. Combinations of drugs can be especially detrimental to operating an automobile.

While prescription drugs and OTC medicine have labels warning of drowsiness and not to drive or operate machinery, people may not always read the labels or be aware of how drowsy they are until they are already behind the wheel. In addition, a person may forget they have already taken a pill and accidentally take more than they should have.

If you were charged with DUI of a prescribed controlled substance or an OTC medication, you face the same penalties as being charged for DUI of an illegal controlled substance, like heroin or cocaine.

Penalties for DUI of prescription or OTC drugs include:

  • A misdemeanor on your criminal record;
  • A one year license suspension;
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock;
  • Mandatory Drug Treatment;
  • Up to $5,000 in fines, and;
  • A minimum of 72 hours of jail time.

If you were charged with DUI, you undoubtedly have a hundred questions running through your mind. Will I go to jail? Will I lose my license?  Will I be able to afford auto insurance? Will I have a criminal record? Will I lose my job?

There are lasting consequences for years to come if you are convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania. Facing criminal charges is very scary and stressful. However, not everyone who is charged with DUI is convicted and oftentimes charges can be reduced.

An Arrest is Not a Conviction

Just because you were charged with DUI does not mean you have been convicted. There are many options to fight and win a DUI in court, reduce the charges and/or keep them off your record.

If you were charged with DUI in PA, call Attorney Saadzoi as soon as possible for free legal consultation.

At Saadzoi Law, we can help. We can lay out your options and offer the best strategy to fight your charges. We work to get the best outcome possible, and for your charges to either be reduced or dropped altogether.

We understand mistakes happen and we also know that, sometimes, people are not guilty of crimes they are charged with committing. We also know that sometimes arresting officers make mistakes.

It is stressful to be charged with a crime, not just for the person facing DUI charges, but for their whole family.

Attorney Saadzoi offers free consultations to anyone charged with a DUI in Delaware County, Montgomery County or Chester County – Call Attorney Saadzoi today.


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Which Prescription Drugs and OTC Medicine Can be Cause for DUI Charges in PA?

Whether you are taking drugs for blood pressure, allergies, depression, insomnia, anxiety, stress, pain or even diarrhea, they could all impact your coherence and ability to drive a vehicle.

While there are many types of drugs that you should not drive under, one of the most common is Ambien, since oftentimes it is prescribed for insomnia. Upon waking, people may still have the drug in their system and get in their vehicles, which can actually be very dangerous.

The Food and Drug Administration has a list of medicines that they say do not mix with driving.

The FDA recommends these medicines you should not drive while taking:

  • Opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and codeine;
  • Anti-anxiety medicine and benzodiazepines, like Valium and Xanax;
  • Sleeping pills, like Ambien, Restoril, and Doxepin (prescription and OTC);
  • Muscle relaxants, like chlorzoxazone, Flexoril and Skelaxin;
  • Antihistamines, often found in allergy, cold and sleep medicine (prescription and OTC);
  • Anti-seizure drugs and antiepileptic drugs, like Dilantin;
  • Antipsychotic drugs, like Quetiapine and Olanzapine;
  • Certain types of antidepressants;
  • Diarrhea medicines;
  • Motion sickness pills;
  • Diet pills, and;
  • Other medications with stimulants (e.g., caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)

How Much of a Prescription Drug is Cause for DUI Charges in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, any amount of a controlled substance, legal or not, can be grounds for being charged with DUI.

When an arresting officer pulls someone over for DUI, typically they have cause, like the person was swerving or driving erratically. They may ask for field sobriety tests and then they will make a determination on whether they suspect the driver is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

After an arrest, a person is requested to give a blood sample. If the blood sample reveals a concentration level over a certain range, you will be charged with DUI. If the level is low, the arresting officer can still charge you with DUI, under his or her opinion that the drug affected your capability to drive a vehicle safely.

If you refuse to submit a blood test, you will also be charged with DUI and face the same penalties as if you had a controlled substance or illegal drug in your system.


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What are the Penalties if Convicted of DUI of Prescription Drugs?

If the arresting officer decides to charge you with DUI Controlled Substance, there is no penalty difference in the amount of drug in your system. This differs from the penalties from DUI alcohol, in which penalties are based on the amount of alcohol in your system, or BAC level.

For DUI drugs or “drugged driving” in Pennsylvania, you face the highest tier of penalties possible.

Penalties for DUI alcohol have different tiers, but penalties for illegal substances or prescribed drugs and OTC medications, as well as refusal to submit a blood sample, are all given the same penalty: the highest tier penalty.

For more information see PA Code § 3802 

For a first-time DUI Controlled Substance the following penalties apply:

  • Up to 72 hours in jail;
  • Fines ranging from $1,000-$5,000;
  • A license suspension (one year);
  • Highway Safety School;
  • Drug / alcohol counseling and/or treatment;
  • Ignition Interlock.

The penalties increase for a second offense DUI drug conviction:

  • A prison sentence: 90 days to five years;
  • Fines ranging from $1,500 to $10,000;
  • A license suspension (one and a half years);
  • Highway Safety School;
  • Mandatory Ignition Interlock Program;
  • Drug / alcohol counseling and/or treatment.

In addition to losing your license, jail time and fines, a DUI conviction means you will have a criminal record, which will make everything in your future more difficult – getting a job, finding housing, finding insurance and loans for housing and school.

Attorney Saadzoi is a compassionate and understanding attorney who is prepared to fight tooth and nail for your rights and reduction in charges or case dismissal.

She has successfully litigated numerous criminal and DUI cases in Southeast Pennsylvania and thoroughly understands the court process.

Dedicated to her clients, Attorney Saadzoi has spent time on both sides of the law as a prosecutor and a public defender. As your lawyer, she will work aggressively to resolve the charges against you.


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How Saadzoi Law Can Help

Attorney Saadzoi has years of experience successfully helping clients fight for their DUI charges reduced, dismissed and resolved.

At Saadzoi Law, we review the details of your DUI arrest and police reports. We determine if the stop was unlawful and if you were in control of the vehicle. If not, or if there are any other circumstances permitting, we will file motions to gain leverage over the prosecution.

Attorney Saadzoi knows that sometimes good people make mistakes and often times the punishment does not fit the crime. Many people deserve a second chance and treatment programs over harsh prison sentences and large fines that can tarnish their reputation and take away their freedom.

This compassion translates to an aggressive litigator who will work hard for her clients to get the best possible outcome.

Attorney Saadzoi has spent time on both sides of the law as a prosecutor and a public defender. As your lawyer, she will work aggressively to resolve the charges against you.

With the stakes being so high, the help of an experience PA DUI attorney could make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

At Saadzoi Law, we can help you:

  • Understand your charges;
  • Become aware of your rights under the law;
  • Identify what legal strategies will best help in your case, and;
  • Determine which defenses apply to your case.

Attorney Saadzoi will do everything possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. 

 


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