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Rockville DUI Drug Charges
Although DUI charges are most frequently associated with alcohol, you may also be charged for driving under the influence of drugs. With this in mind, the following is what you need to know regarding these charges and how they differ from DUI charges involving alcohol.
To further discuss your case or to begin building a defense, call and schedule a consultation with a Rockville DUI lawyer today.
When DUID Charges Come Into Play
Being under the influence of drugs subject to a DUI stop is very common. When an officer pulls an individual who displays signs of not being sober over for a traffic stop, if there are odors of marijuana or other kinds of drugs in the car, or there is some kind of drug paraphernalia, this could tip off an officer that the person might be driving the vehicle while under the influence of some kind of drug.
How Impairment is Proven
Rockville law enforcement officials use various methods to prove impairment. Typically speaking, standard field sobriety tests are administered, but are not definitive as to whether an individual was under the influence of drugs or not. The officer usually calls a specialist known as a DRE, or drug recognition expert. That officer is required to come either to the side of the road or to the police station to administer a different set of sobriety tests.
The DRE will test for things which the officer typically will not test for when somebody is suspected to be under the influence of alcohol. Those field sobriety tests often come coupled with some kind of blood test, which will assist an officer in determining whether they should bring charges for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or simply driving under the influence of drugs.
Additionally, someone pulled over on suspicion of a drug DUI will be required to submit to a chemical test, which will require either a urine or blood sample. These drug DUI tests will then be used against you in court, and refusing these tests can reflect negatively on your case.
Difference Between Drug and Alcohol Related DUI Charges
The differences in penalties are not that significant for driving under the influence of drugs or drugs and/or alcohol. People still face the possibility of incarceration, extensive probation, as well as points on their driver’s license. However, when somebody is driving under the influence of drugs versus under the influence of alcohol, the Motor Vehicle Administration penalties may be more significant, as will the terms of the individual’s probation from the criminal court system.
A criminal judge might put an individual on a more extensive or intensive period of probation if they are charged with driving under the influence of drugs, simply because driving under the influence of drugs is considered more serious. This is true for two reasons:
Number one, drugs are never legal (unless prescribed), so unless it is a small amount of marijuana, a person cannot use drugs recreationally and get behind the wheel of a car.
Number two, it is difficult to determine the level of impairment based on the kinds of drugs taken, so judges typically err on the side of caution and treat those cases more seriously than alcohol cases. Differentiating severity of impairment for someone under the influence of alcohol with a .08 alcohol concentration level versus someone with a .20, is much easier for a judge and therefore easier to determine which case to treat more seriously than the other. However, instead of trying to make those levels of severity for drugs, judges just consider drugs more severe in general.
Voluntary Intoxication Defenses
It is still voluntary intoxication even if you did not know the drug would impair you, because it is your responsibility to know how you will be affected by a particular kind of medication.
Involuntary Intoxication Defenses
Involuntary intoxication is not something that we typically see as a defense in DUI cases. It is certainly something that could be presented as a defense, but I believe that most judges in Montgomery County probably would not acknowledge it as a legitimate defense.
Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in DUID Cases
One of the biggest mistakes to avoid in a drug DUI case is thinking you can drive under the influence of a drug because it was prescribed to you. That is the number one issue that we see in Montgomery County when individuals are charged with driving under the influence of drugs. People often think that because they were prescribed a medication for a legitimate health reason that makes it okay to operate a vehicle while taking it.
It is a very reasonable to think that if somebody has a medical issue and is taking medications as prescribed, then it is okay to drive. They should just recognize that if they do this they can still find themselves in a lot of trouble. They can also jeopardize the safety of themselves and others by driving under the influence of that drug. Accordingly, people should exercise extreme caution when taking prescription medications and operating a vehicle under the influence of those medications.
Importance of a Rockville DUI Drug Lawyer
Being charged with any crime, especially one that involves being behind the wheel of a car, has many different consequences ranging from jail time to probation to points to complete loss of your driving privileges. Only a Rockville DUI lawyer who is familiar with the Motor Vehicle Administration rules for alcohol – and drug-related violations will be able to help you in navigating these very tricky laws to try to hold on to your driving privilege, keep your record clear of any points, and keep you out of jail. As a Rockville drug DUI attorney can tell you, they see a lot of drug DUI charges in this part of Montgomery County. What people do not realize is that they can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of drugs even if the drugs were legal. Retaining an attorney also means that you’ll have someone explain to you the court process and what to expect in court after being formally charged.
In particular, drug DUI lawyers in Rockville see a lot of people being charged when they are under the influence of prescription medications, particularly when they did not know it would impact their ability to drive or that it was unlawful to drive under the influence of them. Certainly these cases are handled very seriously. They are handled by the same prosecutors who handle DUI cases associated with alcohol. In terms of how convictions are established, the same protocol is followed as in regular DUI cases. However, the evidence presented and some of the inferences are different in drug DUI prosecutions. For instance, it is very likely that they will be offered Probation Before Judgment in such cases.
Someone who does not have the experience to handle these things will often not know the best way to request a hearing. They won’t know the how courts view these types of charges and how to defend themselves in court, or make other preparations that are required to make sure that you have the best defense available. Knowing the multitude of ways people can be charged with drug DUIs makes it easier for a Rockville drug DUI attorney to craft a defense.