Understanding Prescription Drug DUI in Georgia

Feb 16, 2022 | Auto Accidents, DUI Defense, Legal Advice, Misdemeanor Charges

Prescription Drug DUI in Georgia: What Happens If You’re Arrested for It

Unbeknownst to many Georgia drivers, you can get arrested for DUI even if you haven’t had a drop of alcohol to drink—and even if you haven’t taken any illegal drugs. If you are on prescription medications that affect your ability to drive, an officer may arrest you for an offense known as prescription drug DUI—and the penalties for a conviction are the same as if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was over the legal limit.


Georgia Drug DUI Laws

According to Georgia DUI law, if you are taking prescription medication that impacts your ability to think, reason, and quickly respond, which is unsafe to drive, you could be charged with DUI. For example, if you are on prescription medications and you take a few shots of alcohol, you would be in a dangerous situation, threatening several lives. Mixing alcohol and prescription drugs is extremely dangerous.

If you are impacted by prescription drugs and you still drive, you will be charged with DUI in Georgia, and that fat that you have a prescription for will not be considered a defense. Georgia law strictly deals with a person who violates this section of DUI laws and is considered fully responsible.

If you have been charged with prescription drug abuse in Georgia, it is advised to consult with a prescription drug DUI lawyer. At Chehimi law, we have qualified and skilled attorneys with experience in prescription drug DUI cases. You can book a free consultation and understand how we form our attorney-client relationship.


How Does Drug DUI Works?

What makes legal prescription drug DUI trickier than alcohol-related DUI is the fact that there are no prescribed standards as to how much of a certain drug is too much, and in some cases, it’s also nearly impossible to measure how much of the drug is in your system. (By contrast, BAC is easy to measure, and the threshold for legal intoxication is a BAC of 0.08.) What’s more—prescription drugs are legal, so you can’t be arrested for having them in your system! Thus, the only way for an officer to determine whether you arrest you for drug DUI is based on your performance behind the wheel—whether she suspects the substances in your system (prescription or otherwise) are affecting your ability to drive safely.


Proving Drug DUI: What is “Less Safe?”

How can law enforcement officers prove you were driving DUI if the drugs you were taking were legally prescribed? The answer lies in the phrase “less safe” as it appears in Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 (a)(2) (2010): A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while…

Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. Thus, to secure a conviction in court, the prosecutor doesn’t need to prove that there was a specific amount of the drug in your system—only that the presence of that drug caused you to drive less safely. When it comes to prescription drugs, the prosecution must specifically show that the legal drug you were taking rendered you “incapable of driving safely.”

Ironically, the vagueness of this argument can also work toward your defense because, ultimately, the question of whether you were driving “less safe” is based mainly on the arresting officer’s opinion, which may be incorrect.

Questions to address in your defense might be whether the doctor who prescribed the drug believes the dosage could cause impairment; whether you were properly advised as to the dangers of impairment; and how much time had passed since your previous dose before getting behind the wheel.


Consequences for a Prescription Drug DUI

The consequences of a prescribed medication DUI would be the same as any other DUI conviction in Georgia. You would face similar severe consequences as any other type of DUI. This means you might face potential jail time, fines, probation, and a chemical use assessment along with educational programs.


Get Help From Experienced Lawyers

Nevertheless, if you’re convicted of taking prescription drugs DUI in Georgia, you could face stiff fines, license penalties including a hard suspension with no permit, and possible jail time, even for a first offense. For that reason, you shouldn’t defend against this charge without the help of skilled legal counsel. If you’ve been arrested for drug DUI, call Chehimi Law at 678-459-5659.