In Atlanta, the law does not distinguish between whether an individual is impaired because they are under the influence of prescription drugs or illegal drugs. It is commonly thought that a person cannot be charged with a prescription drug DUI because they are under the influence of lawfully prescribed drugs, this, however, is untrue. When a person is lawfully prescribed drugs, that does not mean they were lawfully prescribed to take drugs and operate a vehicle.
With that said, anyone accused of prescription drug-related offense should consult with an Atlanta prescription drug lawyer to build a defense. Going to court without attorney representation would be irresponsible because any admission in regards to the fact that a person was taking or under the influence of drugs while driving could negatively impact an individual’s chances of a favorable outcome. Therefore, it is imperative to have an Atlanta DUI drug lawyer on your side as you navigate the legal process.
With any criminal charge, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. For someone to be charged with a prescription drug DUI, it must be proven that the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a particular drug or drugs to the extent that it was less safe for them to drive.
If an Atlanta prescription drug DUI attorney can prevent the prosecution from proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual was a less safe driver, even though they were under the influence of drugs, then the individual is not proven guilty.
There must be some evidence that an individual is under the influence of prescription drugs. This can be through their own admission of having taken the drugs or through behavior as observed by the police officer during a traffic stop. Evidence can also be determined through a blood test. In fact, in some cases, the police can secure a search warrant where they are legally allowed to hold a person down, take their blood, and test that blood for the presence of narcotics, prescription or otherwise.
Some police officers in Atlanta are trained as drug recognition experts, meaning they have had specialized training in recognizing the behavior and physical manifestations associated with certain non-prescription narcotics and prescription drugs traditionally known to cause people to be less safe drivers. These officers have gone over and above the standard academy training on DUI recognition, which typically focuses solely on alcohol.
The hours and hours of extra training give these specially trained officers the credentials to testify as experts in the field of drug recognition. Prosecutors can have these officers certified by the court as an expert, meaning that this particular officer’s testimony will carry more weight with the jury. It is very difficult without a blood test to convict someone of driving under the influence of drugs and prescription drugs unless they have the additional training that comes from being a drug recognition expert. However, due to the frequent use of these experts in these types of cases, it is important that an individual has an experienced prescription drug DUI lawyer in Atlanta to advocate on their behalf.
Statutorily, a prescription drug DUI carries the same penalties as any other DUI. This means a minimum fine of $300 on the first offense, 12-month probation, a minimum of 24 hours in jail, alcohol and drug evaluation, participation in a risk reduction course, which is DUI school, and 40 hours of community service. Quite often, while not mandated by statute, many of the Atlanta courts order that a convicted individual attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel.
DUI charges are not different for a person who did not have a prescription for the drugs in their system. However, if a person’s blood is tested for or an admission of taking an illegal narcotic is made, that would otherwise be legal if a person had a valid prescription, the defendant could be charged with unlawful possession of the drug.
When a person first consults with an Atlanta prescription drug DUI attorney, they should provide their prescription and medical information to establish a foundation of honesty with the attorney. The complete story regarding the day an individual was arrested is crucial for an attorney to prepare the best possible defense for the defendant.
Another component of putting together the best possible defense is to have an expert test the client’s blood sample if it was taken at the time of the charge. An attorney may also have the blood tested independently for narcotics that may have been present at the time of the charge.