Can I be convicted of DUI while using prescribed medications such as Vicodin, Xanax or Oxycontin?

California Vehicle Code section 23152(a) addresses situations where a person arrested, was under the influence of alcohol and/or a drug. In this context, the term "drug" does not require that the drug be an illegal one. (Vehicle Code section 312). Section 23152(a) also covers prescribed drugs, such as Vicodin, Xanax or Oxycontin, which when taken with alcohol or even by themselves can impair a person's ability to drive in the manner of a sober prudent person.

To underline this point, the Legislature passed Vehicle Code section 23630 which states that: "The fact that any person charged with driving under the influence of any drug or the combined influence of alcoholic beverages and any drug in violation of Section 23152 or 23153 is, or has been entitled to use, the drug under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against any violation of the sections."

However, estimating whether an individual is under the influence of prescription medication is complicated. Scientist and criminalists who study these things, have not been able to accurately develop a quantative symbiosis between the use of many prescription medications and driving impairment. As a result, police departments will often rely on officers who have undergone additional training (a drug recognition evaluator – DRE) to perform a battery of tests on an individual suspected of DUI. Unfortunately, since these tests are based on the officer's observations, the officer's memory and motives can be unreliable. Further, every experienced DUI defense attorney will tell you that sometimes a DUI suspects' statements can be taken out of context or even fabricated to support an arrest and conviction.

If you have been charged with DUI for using prescribed medication in Temecula, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Wildomar, Hemet, Corona, Winchester, Perris, Banning or Riverside, you need the assistance of an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney. Call my office immediately to schedule a free consultation directly with me.

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