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Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC (412) 281-2146

    Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

    You probably know you can get into trouble for driving under the influence of alcohol or an illegal drug. However prescription medications, legally prescribed for you by your doctor to help you cope with conditions like depression or sleep problems, can also put you at risk of a DUI charge.

    If police or troopers decide you were driving erratically because you were under the influence, even if your impairment was due to prescription drugs that you acquired legally you can be arrested for DUI.

    Local emergency room doctors say you are under increased risk of driving impaired when you first start a new medication or if you take more of your meds than you were prescribed to alleviate your symptoms.

    The penalties for drugged driving, called DUID, are even harsher than those for driving under the influence of alcohol. In Pittsburgh, you will be charged as if you tested at a blood alcohol content of .16 percent or more.

    Pennsylvania Prescription Drug DUI

    If you are pulled over for a Pittsburgh DUID, law enforcement will first check you for signs of impairment. These could include slurred speech, inability to hold one’s head up, bloodshot eyes, or trouble focusing. At this time, the officer will likely ask you to take a DUI test. Sometimes this starts with field sobriety tests – which are subject and can be fought – and at other times, the police will ask you for a blood, breath, or urine test.

    Penalties for DUID

    In Pennsylvania, driving under the influence of drugs will cause you to be charged at the highest level of the Commonwealth’s three-tier system.

    Third tier, first offense:

    • Three days to six months in jail
    • $1,000 to $5,000 fine
    • One year license suspension
    • Alcohol highway safety school
    • You may be required to take a court-ordered treatment program

    Third tier, second offense:

    • 90 days to five years in jail
    • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
    • 18 month license suspension
    • Alcohol highway safety school
    • Ignition interlock on your vehicle for one year
    • You may be required to take a court-ordered treatment program

    Third tier, third offense:

    • One to five years in jail
    • $2,500 to $10,000 fine
    • 18 month license suspension
    • Ignition interlock on your vehicle for one year
    • You may be required to take a court-ordered treatment program

    Other negative repercussions of a DUID conviction include:

    • Your Pittsburgh DUID conviction will be on your permanent criminal record, making employment, finding an apartment, maintaining custody, and obtaining student financial aid difficult.
    • You face likely and substantial increases to your car insurance premiums. In some instances, your insurance provider may drop you from coverage altogether.
    • You may face even harsher penalties if you caused anyone injury or death because of your DUID. In these cases, you also risk being sued for damages in a civil lawsuit.

    What Pennsylvania Law Says About Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

    In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive under the influence of prescription drugs. Pennsylvania law will take into account the last 10 years of your driving history to determine if this is your second DUI.

    How a Pittsburgh DUID Attorney Can Help

    If you have been charged with DUID, your first step should be to immediately hire a Pittsburgh DUID attorney. An experienced Pittsburgh DUID attorney can evaluate the complex driving under the influence laws in light of your unique situation.

    One of the next steps in the DUID process will be your preliminary hearing. This is the first court appearance on your case and it is critical because at this hearing your options, including a plea negotiation or a trial, will be determined. Your attorney will help you obtain the best possible outcome for your situation.

    Your Defense For Driving Drugged Charges

    If you do not choose to negotiate a plea and your case goes to trial, your Pittsburgh DUID attorney will have several lines of defense depending on the circumstances of your case. A few of these are:

    • The police did not have probable cause to stop you
    • The police did not have probable cause to test you for DUID
    • The results of the drug test were not accurate
    • The testing equipment used was flawed

    Questions? Contact me.

    Your rights are at stake and you need the best defense to keep them. As an experienced Pittsburgh DUID attorney, I will fight using the strongest defense available to get your DUI for prescription drugs charge reduced or dismissed so you can move on with your life.

    (412) 281-2146 or advice@pittsburghcriminalattorney.com