While driving under the influence, or DUI, generally gets used as a term to describe drunk driving, a DUI can apply whenever the driver of a vehicle appears to be under the influence of an unknown substance.
A DUI charge generally refers to legal substances (such as alcohol), illegal substances (cocaine, heroin, etc.), and prescription drugs that have impaired the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. As such, it’s possible for a driver to be under the influence of a legal prescription for OxyContin and face a DUI charge.
Like alcohol, most drugs remain in a person’s system even after the immediate effects have passed. So while you feel sober, the substances within your blood may still show up on drug tests administered by law enforcement officials.
Further, if a law enforcement officer pulls you over on suspicion of a DUI and finds illegal substances in the vehicle, the potential penalties can become exponentially worse. As such, it’s important for everyone using prescription drugs to consider the situation before attempting to operate a vehicle.
If you even suspect your ability to operate a motor vehicle safety has been compromised by substances you’ve used, call a cab or ride service for transportation.
While a DUI charge may seem fairly routine, the penalties can include everything from the loss of driving privileges to fines and jail time. DUI charges generally get labeled as misdemeanors for first-time offenders, although the charges will depend on the entire situation in question. It’s very possible for a first-time DUI charge to be a felony.
For first offenses, a DUI conviction can include some jail time (generally less than 14 days), maximum fines of $3,000, and the suspension of your driving privileges. Keep in mind that additional charges can add to the penalties; if the property was damaged or injuries occurred during the arrest, the penalties will expand to include those additional offenses.
Depending on your charges, it’s possible you may face additional penalties such as community service, participation in a substance abuse program, and psychiatric evaluation which you may be responsible for funding. That could mean meeting with a mental health professional and paying for their time and care.
Also, if law enforcement officials can prove you were using illegal substances while committing the DUI, the penalties will reflect the use of those substances. That’s why DUI drug charges tend to be a little heavier than alcohol DUI charges.
When considering the potential penalties for a DUI conviction, it’s important to remember that your specific legal challenge has its own unique characteristics. This means that, while a DUI charge may be routine for law enforcement officials, your specific charge has its own circumstances that require the guidance of a legal professional.
So don’t make the mistake of assuming there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself legally, and never be afraid to ask for legal representation. Contrary to popular belief, everyone asks for a lawyer, especially the innocent.