One of the biggest mistakes any driver can make is assuming that driving under the influence (DUI) exclusively applies to alcohol. While it may often be the case that DUI offenses usually involve drunk drivers, that does not mean driving while impaired by any type of drug will help you avoid charges. In the state of New Jersey, any substance that impairs your physical or mental capabilities when operating a motor vehicle can potentially warrant a DUI. This does not just mean illegal drugs, even legally prescribed drugs can fall under this category. However, while the punishments for a DUI conviction due to prescription medication are the same as they would be for alcohol, the ability to challenge it in court is not. If you have recently been charged with a DUI because of legally prescribed drugs, please contact a Middlesex County DWI attorney from The Law Office of Michael A. Policastro to learn more about your next steps.
Why would I be charged for a DUI while driving on a legally prescribed drug?
According to New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug. This would apply to any chemical substance that can impair your motor skills or adversely affect your mental faculties in any capacity, regardless if it is a legal or illegal drug. Because the side effects of many legally prescribed drugs like opioids, depressants, stimulants, inhalants, and anesthetics can result in reckless driving behavior, law enforcement will typically have probable cause to pull you over. If you are charged for a DUI, even if you were driving while on a legal prescription medication, you may face hefty fines, a suspension of your license, and jail time.
How can I challenge a DUI offense for prescription drugs?
In New Jersey, all DUI offenses pertaining to impaired driving due to prescription drugs must be verified by a drug recognition expert (DRE) for a successful conviction. When it comes to the DRE examination process, it requires a myriad of tests to get confirmation of both the type of drug and the severity of impairment. Although, because of the number of tests needed to put together a legitimate DRE report, it is easier for an experienced DUI lawyer knowledgeable of the steps involved in these examinations to challenge the results. If a valid DRE report can not be provided, the DUI charge will likely be thrown out. It is essential to have strong legal representation by your side to ensure that you do not face any unnecessary penalties.