Georgia Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws are strict, and you can be found guilty of DUI if you drive under the influence of any drug. Just because you have been legally prescribed a certain medication does not mean it is legal to drive if that medication impairs your ability to do so safely. Those warnings on your legal medication bottles (“Do not operate heavy machinery” or “Do not drive while using this medication”) really are legally binding. Therefore if you have been accused of driving while under the influence of drugs it is important you consult with a Georgia prescription drug DUI lawyer to discuss your case and begin building a defense.
Effects of Prescribed Medications
Many citizens now take medication for a variety of conditions. Including anti-anxiety medications and sleep medications, such as Ambien. These medications can have a dramatic effect on your ability to drive a car. Of course, some of them clearly say, “don’t take this except at night, when in bed.” There are other medications that say, “Use caution when using machinery.”
What you need to know about these medications is that if you’re in a car accident involving injury or death to anyone and they take a blood test (sometimes a blood and urine test) and you have a positive reading for either the drug or the metabolites (which is the burn off product of that drug) you may find yourself charged with driving under the influence of drugs even though they’re prescribed.
It’s important to know that if you are within the therapeutic dose and it’s not the type of drug that says don’t drive at all, you should be okay. Do not trust that because medications can sometimes mix with each other. You may have taken your prescribed medication and an antihistamine that the combination left you’re impaired and that may have been what caused the accident, at least that’s what the state is going to try and prove.
If you get charged with this offense you need to come from someone who understands the synergistic effects. That is the multiplying effect of these drugs and how to bring in experts to refute that claim.
Mixing Alcohol and Prescription Drugs is Extremely Dangerous
If you take prescription medication that in any way deals with issues such as anxiety or depression or even pain relief and there is a warning on a label that you should not mix this with alcohol, or says something about use caution when using this with alcohol-do not use alcohol at all. With some medications such as Effexor, which is a very powerful drug especially at the 150 mg dose, this medication along with any alcohol (1-2 glasses of wine) can cause total memory blackout. You can end up driving a car not even know you’re in it and walking around and talking sort of in a zombie state but still managing to get around.
Penalties for DUI in Georgia
In Georgia, if you have a driver’s license, you signed a contract agreeing to take sobriety or chemical tests of your body fluids—blood, breath or urine— to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system. Refusing these tests will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license, with just ten days to request a hearing. While a judge may give you some leniency if the drugs you took were legally prescribed, the penalties can be the same for either legal or illegal drugs resulting in a DUI:
- If you refuse the tests, your driver’s license is suspended; you will have just ten days to request a hearing.
- For a first conviction, fines are up to $1,000 and/or up to a year in prison; there is a mandatory minimum of 24 hours in jail.
- On a second offense the fines may still be up to $1,000 and/or a year in prison; you will spend 72 hours in jail.
- After the second offense fines may range up to $5,000 and you will spend at least 15 days in jail and up to a year. Fourth offenses or more are felonies, and you will spend a year in jail, as well as the possibility of other penalties if, for instance, there was a child under 14 in the car.
The severity of these penalties makes it important that an experienced prescription drug DUI lawyer in Georgia is contacted as soon as possible to begin building a defense.
Understanding Georgia Drug DUI Laws
DUI laws in Georgia can be confusing, but it is important to understand that the potential penalties are very serious. Be sure you seek professional help even if you are charged with DUI while taking a legal prescription – you have a lot to lose. The Georgia prescription drug DUI attorneys at Kohn & Yager are available to help you 24 hours a day. Call or fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation review of your case.