Prescription drug DUI charges are different from those of other forms of controlled substances or alcohol. It is possible to face arrest and conviction if officers claim that you were behind the wheel while intoxicated with prescription drugs. The charges are as serious as driving while drunk. A valid prescription from your doctor is not an automatic defense to these charges.
DUI caused by prescription drugs is a legal concern in Las Vegas and other parts of Nevada. Considering the harsh nature of the state’s DUI laws, the best thing to do if you’re facing these charges is to contact an experienced controlled substance DUI lawyer in Las Vegas immediately.
This comprehensive guide reviews Nevada’s laws for prescription drug DUI, the potential penalties, and how a reliable attorney can aid your defense.
Overview of Las Vegas Prescription Drugs DUI
According to the state’s laws, it’s a crime for a driver to operate a vehicle after they’ve ingested a prescription drug that can impact their ability to drive. This is considered the same as driving while drunk.
Even if you used a legally prescribed drug for legitimate purposes, you cannot ingest the medication indiscriminately when it could present side effects that may hamper your driving. Simply put, the main focus isn’t the fact that you have a prescription; the issue is your decision to drive when impaired.
Typical forms of drugs that lead to DUI prosecutions include several sedatives for sleep disorders, pain medication, and antidepressants. Also, some antihistamines and decongestants could impair how you drive when consumed at high dosage.
Here are some examples of drugs that can derail your concentration, slow your motors skills, cloud your judgment, and prevent alertness:
- Lunesta or Ambien
- Oxycodone or Hydrocodone
Nevada official laws take a stern stance on DUI cases. It is illegal to drive when under the influence of any controlled substance, intoxicating liquor, or a combination of both. It’s also unlawful to ingest, inhale, apply, or otherwise use any organic solvent, poison, chemical, compound, or a combination of all these to a level that renders you incapable of practicing actual physical control of a vehicle. This applies whether you’re on the highway or on property that the public can access.
Prescription Drug DUI Test in Las Vegas
NRS 484C.160 requires drivers to submit to a drug test if an officer stops them for suspicion of DUI in physical control or while driving the vehicle. The fact that you’re driving on the highway or property with public access means that you’ve given consent to be tested for controlled substances or alcohol. Therefore, an officer has the right to examine you without your implied consent if they believe you’re driving under the influence.
If you decline the blood, breath, or urine test, the officer may apply reasonable force. You have the right to choose a different qualified individual to administer the alcohol or controlled substance test. However, you’ll pay this expense yourself.
Possible Penalties for Prescription Drugs DUI
The probable sentence you may face is highly dependent on the facts of your case. Typically, DUI offenders may be charged under the first, second, or third offenses, and each level offers its possible penalties and fines.
If you’re a first-time prescription drug DUI offender, you’ll face the same penalties and fines as you would if you were arrested driving while intoxicated with alcohol. This level is considered a misdemeanor offense, and the penalties may include:
- Between two days and six months in a state prison or community service hours
- Mandatory attendance to the state DUI school or a victim impact panel meeting
- Fines ranging from $400 to $1,000
- Driver’s license suspension for 90 days
If it’s your second prescription drug DUI case within seven years, it will be considered a second offense. It’s still a misdemeanor and would attract the following punishments:
- Jail term between ten days to six months
- A mandatory treatment program for drug abuse
- Compulsory attendance to the victim impact panels
- Mandatory drug dependency evaluation, whose cost you must pay
- Between $750 to amounts more than $1,000 in fines
- A suspended license for a year
A third prescription drug DUI now upgrades to a felony charge. This increases the penalty severity substantially.
- Jail term of between 12 months and six years
- Mandatory attendance to a drug abuse program in some instances
- Compulsory participation in a drug dependency test (at your own expense) and victim impact panel
- Between $2,000 to $5,000 in fines
- A suspended license for three years
Notably, if your first DUI incident injured another person or resulted in death, you may spend two to 20 years in jail and incur anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 in fines and court fees. If the fatality follows three or more prior DUI convictions, the law will treat this as vehicular homicide. This can land you between 25 years to life imprisonment with the parole possibility after ten years.
All forms of DUI charges are severe, and the state laws treat them as such. However, your attorney can explore all the case elements to create a solid defense by proving that the DUI charge is erroneous.
Possible Defenses for Prescription Drugs DUI
Your prescription drugs DUI attorney in Las Vegas can rely on several possible arguments to contest your charges, including the following:
- They might state that the tests were inaccurate
- You did not ingest the prescription drugs until you were done with driving
- There was no probable reason to stop you
However, it is not a defense that you had a valid and current prescription, the FDA approves the ingested drug, or that you had an unforeseen psychological effect from the substance.
An Experienced Las Vegas Prescription Drugs DUI Lawyer
If you’re facing DUI charges in Las Vegas, the only way to achieve a favorable case outcome is to partner with a reputable and experienced prescription drugs DUI lawyer. Your attorney will aggressively protect your rights and develop a solid defense to either eliminate the charges or reduce the sentence.
Ralph A. Schwartz is a trusted prescription drugs DUI attorney with the right experience and commitment to your case. Try out our free consultation or reach out so we can review your case and create a solution.