Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that is most often associated with alcohol, but many people are aware that offenders may be prosecuted for operating a motor vehicle while being under the influence of drugs as well. While “drugged driving” is commonly thought to apply only to illegal drugs, motorists can face these charges for being under the influence of prescription drugs as well.
Many prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances under Section 812 of the Controlled Substances Act. As a result, people may be arrested for DUI even if the only drug in their system is a medication that was lawfully prescribed and used in accordance with the directions of their doctors or medical care providers.
Were you arrested for DUI in Nevada after taking a prescription medication? Contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger to explore all of your legal options.
Jeffrey Jaeger is a criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas who also co-authored Westlaw's Courtroom Handbook of Nevada Evidence, a guide judges and lawyers in Nevada. Call (702) 816-3888 right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Under Nevada Revised Statute 484C.110(2), it is illegal for any person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. Unlike alcohol or certain prohibited substances (such as cocaine, heroin, or marijuana), state law does not establish legal limits for prescription medications that are deemed controlled substances.
When a motorist is suspected of DUI in Nevada, police officers will seek to have the person submit to breath tests to determine their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Many people under the influence of prescription drugs have no alcohol in their systems, often leading authorities to believe the person may be under the influence of a controlled substance.
Nevada Revised Statute 484C.150 establishes that every person driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle in Nevada is deemed to have given their consent to preliminary tests of their breath to determine the person’s BACs. If a person refuses to consent, Nevada Revised Statute 484C.160 allows officers to “direct that reasonable force be used to the extent necessary to obtain samples of blood.”
While criminal charges will usually be filed in cases in which there is evidence of mixed multiple prescription drugs, exceeding proper doses, or taking a medication without a lawful prescription, authorities in Nevada may also utilize the services of a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). DREs are police officers specially trained to identify alleged offenders who are under the influence of drugs.
DREs across the country generally follow the same 12-step protocol:
By making interviews with arresting officers a component of the process, DREs are usually acting only to confirm the observations of authorities rather than providing independent analyses. Additionally, DREs generally lack the advanced training necessary to differentiate symptoms of controlled substance use from medical conditions.
If a person is arrested for a DUI relating to prescription drugs, the penalties for a conviction are the same as those for alcohol-based DUI arrests.
Several prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances under both federal law and Nevada Administrative Code 453.510 through 453.550. Some of the most common medications that are considered controlled substances include, but are not limited to:
Region 51 Narcotics Anonymous (NA) — NA is a nonprofit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs had become a problem. While the group is often thought of as being for those addicted to illegal drugs, it also welcomes people struggling with addiction to many legal prescription medications as well. Region 51 serves the Las Vegas metropolitan area, southern Nevada, and parts of three surrounding states.
Some Medications and Driving Don't Mix — The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides this consumer update that addresses many of the things people using prescription medications should keep in mind before driving. The update covers products that require caution, what to do if you have to drive, and recommends alternatives to driving yourself. You can also find links to other sections of the FDA website discussing other issues relating to prescription drugs.
If you have been arrested for drugged driving because you were under the influence of a prescription medication in Nevada, you will want to seek knowledgeable legal representation as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger defends clients throughout the greater Las Vegas area, including North Las Vegas, and Henderson.
As the Director of Litigation Support for the Clark County Public Defender’s Office, Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Jaeger initiated several technology changes that helped lawyers effectively present their cases. Jeffrey can review your case when you call (702) 816-3888 or submit an online contact form to set up a free consultation.
Stay up-to-date on the latest legal news in the Silver State. Las Vegas attorney Jeffrey Jaeger discusses important developments in Nevada Appellate Courts.