Prescription Medication DUI

An Illinois driving under the influence charge can happen for prescription medication DUI. Prescription drugs are treated a little bit differently as opposed to what most people would think of as street drugs. If you are found to be driving unsafely or impaired, even if you have a prescription, you can be charged with a DUI. If you are arrested, don’t wait. Contact our attorneys at The MacNeil Firm for excellent legal representation. We will evaluate your case and the evidence against you and pursue the best strategy for your case.

For the most part, when people think of a DUI case, they think of driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol based DUIs still form a great majority of DUI arrests overall. That is probably because alcohol is the number one intoxicating substance consumed in the United States, plus it is legal and it is easy to purchase. However, The MacNeil Firm does have significant experience handling Illinois driving under the influence charges based on prescription drugs and know how to protect you if you are facing these charges.

Illinois laws about prescription medication DUI

The background on the drug driving offense is important. For driving under the influence of drugs in Illinois or the combined influence of alcohol and drugs, the prosecutor must prove both impairment and unsafe driving.

Whereas the offense of having any amount of a controlled substance in your breath, blood, or urine, that does not require proof of impairment; that offense only requires them to prove that the substance was in your body. It is a strict liability offense and some people call it a Zero Tolerance offense because the law does not differentiate between the amounts of that drug in your system.

In other words, a blood or a urine test could show that you have this trace amount of a drug in your system and it would be enough. You may have consumed that drug or substance hours or days prior, but it does not matter. If they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was in your system, you will be found guilty, even if you are not “high” or driving under the influence of that drug in Illinois.

Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me
Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me

Prescription drugs can also be classified as a controlled substance by statute. In Illinois, it is not illegal to drive with a lawfully prescribed drug in your system so long as you are not impaired and not driving unsafely. This is an exception to that strict liability or zero tolerance charge mentioned earlier. However, if you are not permitted to ingest the drug, you could still be found guilty.

The person charged, in other words, the defendant; they have the burden to produce a legitimate prescription or to show proof that they are entitled to consume that medication. This is called an affirmative defense. However, you could still be found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs in Illinois, even if you have a valid prescription, if you are found to be impaired or driving unsafely.

Prescription Medications in Illinois are on the rise

The number of driving under the influence arrests based on prescription medication DUI has been rising and the number of people that I represent in those types of the case has risen as well. The number of people being prescribed medications is increasing at an alarming rate. The drugs that we are concerned about for DUIs are those substances that could potentially be intoxicating, such as painkillers, antianxiety meds, or sleep aid medications. The prescriptions for those drugs are rising faster than any other type of medications, and so the number of prescription drug-based Illinois driving under the influence arrests to keep increasing as well.

The most common prescription drugs for these types of DUI arrests are the pain management, anti-anxiety, sleeping aids, and anti-depression drugs. For example, for pain medications, you are going to see Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, those are the biggest. Some people refer to them by their brand names like Oxycontin, Percocet, Vicodin, Narco, Lortab.

Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me
Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me

The anti-anxiety and the anti-depression drugs, those are technically what they refer to as selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors and sometimes, they shorten it SSRIs. There are literally dozens of those types, but the most prescribed ones that I see frequently are Xanax, Lexapro, Zoloft and Paxil. As far as sleeping medications, the big three are Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesca. These are really just a few of the most popular ones. There are lots more and actually any prescription medication that has an intoxicating effect could form the basis for a drug based DUI.

The MacNeil Firm is here to make sure a mistake doesn’t ruin your life

Many people assume that if you were prescribed a medication by a doctor, you cannot be held accountable for an Illinois driving under the influence charge based on consuming those pills. This is a common misconception which is 100% incorrect. As we have discussed, possessing a prescription for medication is not an absolute defense to driving under the influence. If a police officer makes an arrest, or if a police officer makes a traffic stop because there is a traffic infraction or some sort of erratic driving and they suspect that the individual might be intoxicated, but there is no odor of alcohol, then they definitely are going to look for prescription medications or some other drug.

Making a mistake, whether it’s driving after a couple of drinks or after taking a prescribed medication, doesn’t make you a bad person and doesn’t mean you deserve to live with a stigma of a prescription medication DUI conviction for the rest of your life. Don’t give up and don’t attempt to negotiate with the prosecuting attorneys all on your own.

Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me
Prescription Medication DUI | The MacNeil Firm | DUI Lawyer Near Me

You will not regret the time you spent finding an experienced, qualified attorney to represent you in Illinois or Indiana. All your rights will be protected and your reputation in the community will be preserved. Don’t just accept whichever plea agreement is thrown out to you by the state. Get to a knowledgeable attorney to look out for your legal interests and your future.

At The MacNeil Firm, we provide you with customized representation: immediate responses to your questions, open, honest, and prompt communication, passion, sensitivity, compassion, and respect during this very difficult and often embarrassing time. You’ll also receive expert legal advice designed to give you the best possible outcome for your pending prescription medication DUI case. Contact us today for a free consultation.