Most people know that in Colorado, it is illegal to drive a car while drinking alcohol. There are many different types of drunk driving-related charges, including driving under the influence (DUI). DUI involves a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 percent while operating a vehicle. Yet, it may surprise some to learn that driving a vehicle under the influence of prescription drugs can also lead to drugged driving-related arrests and charges. There isn’t a set percentage like alcohol-related offenses, if your ability to drive is impaired due to marijuana or prescription drugs. In that case, you may still face charges under driving under the influence.

DUI-D Prescription Drug Charges

Whether it’s drunk driving or drugged driving, Colorado lumps them all into the same category – “driving under the influence.” Except, driving under the influence of drugs is distinguished with “DUI-D.” The differences, however, stop there. A DUI charge doesn’t discriminate against the type of drug used while operating a vehicle. It doesn’t matter if the driver used marijuana, alcohol, or even prescribed medication. That means that if you are pulled over and show the police officer a prescription, you can still be charged with the crime. The police officer will only be interested in whether you, as the driver, were:

“substantially incapable, either mentally or physically, or both mentally and physically, of exercising clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.”

That means that if you are under the influence of even a legal drug, you can still be prosecuted in the same way as other offenders. And if convicted, you risk being punished in the same way as if the drug used was cocaine, alcohol, or another illegal substance.

DWAI Charges and Prescription Drugs

DUI is the most severe type of misdemeanor traffic offense. It carries up to one-year imprisonment for a first offense. The crime of DWAI, or driving while ability impaired, is a lesser version of DUI charges and carries lesser penalties. For a person to be charged with DWAI, there only must be a slight impairment that limits the person from exercising clear judgment or safe operation of a vehicle. Like with a DUI-D, the substance doesn’t matter. Even if your medication slightly impairs your ability to drive, you risk a DWAI charge and being punished just as if you had been drinking or doing illegal drugs.

Colorado Drugged Driving Defenses

Being charged with a DUI or a DWAI if you were using medication proscribed by your doctor may come as a surprise. Our lawyers at the Moorhead Law Group have a demonstrated track record of success. Generally, a DUI charge related to lawful drug or medication use will be based on the driver’s actual impairment, including the slight impairment associated with a DWAI.

Any particular defense, and its success, will always depend on the facts. For example:

  • There was no impairment caused by drugs.
  • The police officer had no reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
  • The blood test conducted was not appropriate under Colorado regulations.
  • There were errors in your DUI blood test.

Additionally, evidence of medication prescribed by a physician can help in the plea-bargaining stage. It can also justify a more lenient set of penalties.  If you have been arrested for DUI or another criminal matter, contact our office at 303-586-6912 or online.