DUI and DWI After Using Legal Drugs


One issue that our San Francisco DUI lawyer often sees is people who are arrested for a DUI after using legal drugs. Understanding how this can happen can help prevent it and formulate a legal defense if it does.

San Francisco DUI Lawyers Can Explain How a Legal Drug DUI Can Happen

People who use prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications are often under the mistaken impression that legality will shield them from a DUI charge. A San Francisco DUI lawyer will tell you that this is not the case. For example, a businessman suffering from depression takes his medication one night. The next morning, he has a headache and takes prescription pills with a side effect of becoming drowsy. The medication has the warning on its label advising against driving or using machinery. He leaves for work and fails to adhere to a stop sign. When a police officer investigates, the man says, “I apologize, officer. I didn’t see the stop sign. It might have been due to the medication I took.” Admitting he took medication increases the possibility of a DUI arrest.

Basic Elements of a DUI and Standards for Impairment

The two basic elements of a DUI are:

  1. The individual was steering and controlling a vehicle while it was moving.
  2. While operating the vehicle, the individual was intoxicated or under the influence.

What this means is that the person’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe manner had been influenced to a noticeable degree due to the alcohol, drugs, or both. While alcohol levels for intoxication are generally 0.08 percent, there has yet to be a determination as to the amount of drugs that will cause impairment comparable to the blood alcohol content. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is examining how drugs affect the ability to drive. A 2009 report discovered that drunk driving has reduced noticeably in the past few years. But an estimated 16 percent of drivers operating their vehicles at night have a drug in their system that could cause impairment. Included in the study were illegal drugs as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The same driving behaviors that are indicative of illegal drug and alcohol use apply to prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These include weaving in the road, ignoring traffic signals, and driving recklessly.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Lawyer If Charged with a DUI For Legal Drugs

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence after having used prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, it’s important to formulate a strong defense. Call (415) 795-3890 to speak to a San Francisco DUI lawyer at Silveira Law today.