When you think of DUI, you probably think of drinking and driving. However, driving under the influence in Georgia can also refer to driving under the influence of drugs. If you were detained by the police and the officer suspected the presence of illegal drugs in your system, you may have been arrested for driving under the influence of illegal drugs, illegal drugs and DUI.

The most common contraband drugs found by police have always been cocaine and marijuana, with the smell of marijuana being more of a dead giveaway than the smell of alcohol.  But over the last decade there has been a steady increase in the use of methamphetamine (ice), heroin and crack cocaine, plus new illegal drugs like synthetic marijuana (spice).

And the drugs do not have to just be illegal, they can be legal and prescribed, not prescribed or even over-the-counter medications like cough syrup. Anything that can impair mental of physical abilities can be considered a drug. If you were arrested for DUI, the police will search your car to find any drug paraphernalia that can be used as evidence at your trial.

If you or someone you know has recently been charged with driving under the influence of drugs in Georgia, you need a Georgia DUI drug attorney who specializes in this area. The attorneys at Kohn & Yager can help.

Testing for the Presence of Illegal Drugs

To test you for possible illegal drugs and DUI, the police will have to arrest you for DUI and bring you to a medical facility or police station to obtain a urine test sample or blood test sample. A urine test will reveal low levels of contraband drugs longer than a blood test. Your kidneys slowly and constantly remove the breakdown and waste products of most chemical substances from your body. Because your kidneys concentrate these waste products from your bloodstream, the residue of any illegal drugs is detectable in your urine for much longer than in your blood.

Depending on how critically the State wants to analyze a urine sample from you, drugs you may have taken months ago may cause your urine test to be positive. If all the police do is dip a test strip into your urine (the most common form of drug testing which can be done anywhere), illegal drugs such as marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics and barbiturates may all be detected in your urine sample for weeks after you were exposed to the drugs. If the police send the urine sample off for a more critical analysis to a crime lab, even more minute amounts of these illegal drugs can be detected for months after your exposure.

Prescription Medications Provide Limited Exceptions

Most citizens charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs are shocked to learn they can be criminally charged for DUI. Being prescribed a drug that affects the central nervous system and a person’s reaction time is no “free pass” after a DUI arrest.

While every state provides a limited exception under state DUI laws for people taking prescription medications, drug DUI cases may be pursued against any person who has been involved in an accident where evidence of drug use is indicated (through symptoms of physical evidence), or where the driver admits to taking any type of drugs and driving. Therefore if a case is pursued against you, consult with a DUI drug lawyer in Georgia today.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

If a driver is convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, he or she can face the same penalties as someone convicted of drinking and driving. In some cases, the penalties can even be stricter for drug use.

One possible penalty may be losing your driving privileges from criminal court, even if there is no administrative hearing held with the department of motor vehicles. Other penalties that you may face include probation, community service, jail time, loss of employment and more.

Driving while under influence of drugs can carry very harsh driver’s license consequences in many states. In Georgia, a mandatory six-month total loss of driving privileges is imposed, whereas a driver with the same DUI offense, but has an alcohol level of 0.350 is permitted to obtain an immediate “work permit.”

For example, a first offense DUI driver in Georgia who is charged with DUI alcohol, regardless of how high the breath test might be, is permitted to get an immediate limited driving permit if he or she submits to a breathalyzer test as part of the DUI arrest.

On the other hand, any first offender convicted of any drug offense in Georgia, including driving under the influence of prescription drugs, faces a minimum total loss of driver’s license for six-months.

Building a DUID Defense

Our top-reviewed Georgia DUI drug lawyers have successfully represented clients who had no intention of driving under the influence of drugs, but were forced to drive because of an immediate emergency. For example, a person will take an Ambien at bedtime, but a medical emergency forces them to drive their child to the emergency room. On the way to the hospital a police officer pulls our client over for speeding and subsequently arrests our client for misdemeanor drugged driving.

Or our client is involved in an auto accident where someone is killed, and felony charges of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide are filed against our client. In this case we can raise what is known as an “affirmative defense,” whereby our goal is to prove our client had to unintentionally operate a vehicle out of necessity. The state must prove you intended to drive, but a good criminal attorney will fight back against this prosecutor’s line of attack.

Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious criminal offense. But it is also one that can be properly defended if you hire an experienced DUI attorney. It is important that you act quickly in hiring an attorney following your DUI arrest. The longer your lawyer has to investigate your case the better your chances at winning in court.