In Pennsylvania DUI Charges Can Also Result From Influence of Drugs While Driving

Most people in Pennsylvania are aware of the criminal and non-criminal implications for drunk driving, but many people may not know that a driver under the influence of a drug in Pennsylvania may also be charged with a DUI. Police may charge a driver with a DUI resulting from the impairment of a drug whether the drug is legal or illegal.

The charge is referred to as driving under the influence of drugs or DUI-D, and according to one police officer from Pennsylvania who was recently interviewed on the subject by CBS, driving under the influence charges involving drugs comprise almost half of the DUI charges made in the state. However, a DUI-D charge is harder for police to make because the methods to detect whether a driver is under the influence of a drug are not as clear cut as the blood alcohol or breath tests used for drinking and driving suspects.

If an officer suspects the driver is impaired but there is no detection of alcohol, the officer may suspect the influence of drugs. If a driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs, a specially trained officer referred to as a drug recognition expert will conduct an extra standardized evaluation. The evaluation may include a breath test, a field sobriety test, the measurement of blood pressure, the measurement of the pulse, a review of the appearance of the driver's eyes and other tests.

The most common drugs that cause intoxication behind the wheel are anti-anxiety medications and sleeping medications. Intoxication normally occurs when a person starts a new prescription. Since, some people do not expect to be significantly affected by new medication, it is important to abide by labels that warn against the operation of heavy machinery or that the drug may cause drowsiness. It is also important to understand how a new drug may interact with other drugs that a person already takes. To stay safe and avoid a criminal charge, it is best not to drive until the effects of the new drug are understood.

Source: CBS Pittsburgh, "Driving Under the Influence of Drugs a Growing Problem," June 15, 2012


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