In DUI Cases, Whether You Injure Someone Matters More Than Prior Offenses or the Nature of the Substance
One of the many flaws of the drug education programs many of us experienced in school is that they made it sound like there are good drugs and bad drugs, that something is either a dangerous poison that only a stupid or amoral person would ingest, or else it is a harmless, beneficial medicine. In fact, context counts for a lot. Drinking three mixed drinks in a single evening is arguably less dangerous than injecting heroin once, but when you get them behind the wheel of a car, the social drinker and the heroin user have an approximately equal risk of causing an accident and injuring themselves or someone else. Driving under the influence is driving under the influence, no matter whether you legally obtained the substance that is causing the impairment. Prescription drugs play an increasingly large role in substance abuse-related criminal cases, including DUI cases. If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence of a prescription drug, even if you were only taking it as prescribed to you, contact a Pittsburgh DUI defense lawyer.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs in Pennsylvania Law
Pennsylvania law acknowledges that criminal offenses that stem from substance abuse, such as drug possession or DUI, are often signs that the defendant needs help recovering from substance use disorder and that prison time is not the best way to help the defendant be physically and financially healthy and avoid future legal trouble. Therefore, people charged with non-violent offenses related to alcohol or drugs can sometimes complete court-ordered rehab instead of facing jail time. Even if they are not eligible for pretrial diversion which lets them avoid a conviction on their criminal record, defendants in drug cases more often get probation, of which rehab, sobriety, and drug testing are conditions. Meanwhile, abuse of prescription opioids and other prescription drugs has become very widespread in Pennsylvania, and the line between using these drugs safely and abusing them has become blurry, especially as irresponsible prescribing of them was once widespread.
In the News
In December 2020, Caroline Biden, 33, the niece of President-Elect Joe Biden, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs. The charges stem from an August 2019 accident in Lower Merion Township in which Ms. Biden was involved in a single vehicle accident, and a blood test revealed that she was under the influence of the pain medication carisoprodol and the anxiety drug lorazepam. In her car were bottles of these drugs, with labels showing that they had been prescribed to her. Her sentence requires her to pay a fine and attend court-ordered rehab. The sentence also includes driver’s license suspension and five months of probation. Her lawyer said that it is common in Pennsylvania for defendants in DUI cases to avoid jail time unless they cause an accident resulting in bodily injury.
Let Us Help You Today
If you are facing criminal charges because of driving after taking the medication prescribed to you, a Pittsburgh DUI defense lawyer can help you. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson about your case.