DUI on Prescription Medication —How’s that possible?
Kansas DUI laws include driving while drugged and most people are familiar with the term DUID, or driving under the influence of drugs. Unfortunately, what a growing portion of the driving public is coming to realize is that you can be charged with DUID for prescription medication.
Many DUI offenses in Kansas are strictly alcohol related, but those of us in the defense community are seeing an increasing amount of charges being brought against motorists for driving impaired due to a legally prescribed medication. These include prescriptions for drugs such as Xanax, Vicodin, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, and pretty much anything else the state’s drug lab has a test for.
The first thing drivers should understand is that Kansas DUI statutes specifically ban them from using the legal defense of entitlement. A legal entitlement defense boils down to; “my doctor prescribed it,” and “I took it as prescribed…” so it must be OKAY. The law simply doesn’t care if your drug was medically prescribed in a DUI case.
The legal framework for all Kansas DUID charges is incapacity. Any chemical substance that is thought to render you incapable of safely operating a moving vehicle will fall under the code for violating the rules of the road. To convict for a DUI of prescription drugs, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that three things occurred:
1) The driver operated or attempted to operate a vehicle; and
2) While operating, the driver was under the influence of a drug; and
3) That influence made the driver incapable of safely operating the vehicle.
But there are problems with attempting to prove the last two elements in a DUI with prescription drugs case. First, prescription medications vary widely in terms of influence and effects upon each individual.
Second, many medications remain detectable days after being taken, which is long after their effects wear off. For example, you can take a prescribed sleeping pill at night and not drive until two days later, but still be charged for a DUID because traces of the drug are detectable in your bloodstream. These issues along with the validity of the chemical test itself, can be successfully exploited at trial by a strong DUI defense advocate.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
- 1st DUI ever: A first ever DUI/DUID conviction is a Class B misdemeanor carrying 48 hours minimum mandatory incarceration, up to 6 months jail time plus a fine of from $750, up to $1,000.
- 2nd Offense: A second DUI/DUID conviction in a person’s lifetime is a Class A misdemeanor with a mandatory 5 days imprisonment on a 90-day minimum sentence; up to a 1 year maximum plus a fine of $1,250 up to $1,750.
- 3rd Offense -misdemeanor: A third DUI/DUID where the previous DUIs were over 10 years ago will be a Class A misdemeanor subject to 90 days minimum imprisonment and a fine of from $1,750 up to $2,500.
- 3rd Offense -felony: A third DUI/DUID conviction where a previous DUI occurred within 10 years of the current offense will be a nonperson felony. The sentence is a minimum of 90 days imprisonment up to 1 year, and a fine of from $1,750 up to $2,500.
Fourth and subsequent convictions for a DUI or DUI for prescription medication will also be nonperson felonies that carry the same penalties as a 3rd-offense felony.