NyQuil DUI Blues

undefinedBy F. Clay Merris, Esq.

Most people are aware that driving after consuming alcohol or on illegal drugs can lead to a DUI.  Another thing to be mindful of is that over-the-counter and even properly prescribed medications can lead to a DUI as well if they are inhibiting your behavior and actions so as to make your driving inattentive and erratic. There are some differences, however, to how these different types of DUIs are prosecuted. With alcohol, for someone of legal drinking age, there must be a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of at least .08 for there to be a DUI conviction. With controlled substances, though, for the most part, no specific amount is required to convict someone for DUI. Here is the controlling statute:

(d) Controlled substances.--An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle under any of the following circumstances:

(1) There is in the individual's blood any amount of a:

(i) Schedule I controlled substance, as defined in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act;

(ii) Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substance, as defined in The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, which has not been medically prescribed for the individual; or

(iii) metabolite of a substance under subparagraph (i) or (ii).

(2) The individual is under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual's ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.

(3) The individual is under the combined influence of alcohol and a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual's ability to safely drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.

(4) The individual is under the influence of a solvent or noxious substance in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 7303 (relating to sale or illegal use of certain solvents and noxious substances).

Schedule I drugs are those with no currently accepted medical use by the federal government, such as marijuana, heroin, and LSD. Notice that the law only requires “any amount” of a Schedule I controlled substance or any amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substance which is not prescribed. This prohibition means, for example, that the slightest trace of a Schedule I controlled substance, which includes marijuana or one of its metabolites, could lead to a DUI conviction. Furthermore, anyone who has any trace of a Schedule II or III drug such as oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall, Ritalin, ketamine, or Codeine in their blood but does not have an active prescription for such a drug could also be convicted of DUI. In cases such as these, the Commonwealth would not need to prove someone was driving erratically or unsafely. They would simply need to prove that the person was driving and had any amount of a controlled substance in their system at the time.

Also, driving with prescribed and over-the-counter medications, even if only taken as prescribed, can result in a DUI. Though the fact may be that you are driving unsafely on account of being drowsy from just having a cold and your body being exhausted, the presence of these drugs in your system will likely lead to a DUI charge. Law enforcement doesn’t accept excuses for unsafe driving. Even fatigue alone can lead to a charge of reckless driving if your driving seems impaired.

If you are being prosecuted for DUI, dial, 717 657 7770, to contact Scaringi Law’s experienced criminal defense attorneys.

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