Fresno DUI Attorney: DUI Is Also About Legally-Obtained Prescription Drugs

Jul 11, 2014

Ask 100 people the first thing they think of when they hear “driving under the influence” and 99 will probably say “alcohol.”  But in California and many other states, you can be prosecuted for having legally-obtained prescription drugs in your system.  According to DUI Drugs:

“In California, the “drug” portion of the DUID equation can be any substance that can impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle in a safe and cautious way. The term “drug” does not explicitly refer to illegal substances; legal, over-the-counter medications can qualify as drugs under the terms of a DUID in the state of California. Prescribed medications, controlled substances and illegal drugs similarly all fall under the umbrella of being a “drug” when it comes to California DUI drugs charge.”

If you are pulled over, the arresting officer can demand a blood or urine sample.  He will also observe and report your behavior at the time of the arrest.  Both can be used against you in a court of law, where the prosecution will attempt to prove that the prescription drug you obtained legally from your doctor, or the combination of that drug and even a small amount of alcohol, prevented you from driving safely.

Is There Any Defense to Such Laws?

The state of California does allow a defense when you receive a DUI for having ingested prescription drugs which you got legally from your doctor.  But proving your innocence can be thorny.  You will probably have to take the witness stand, and you might need to have to present evidence from your physician or a forensic expert.  If you choose to have your doctor testify, he will have to appear in court as the laws of evidence in California will not permit introduction of a letter from him.

Where Can I Turn If I've been Charged?

Whether or not these laws are a violation of your constitutional right to a fair trial is a matter of debate and future litigation.  The fact remains that if you are a California driver and you have taken drugs prescribed by your doctor, you could be at risk.  If you are charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, you should immediately obtain legal representation from an experienced Fresno DUI attorney.

The Mitchell Law Group has extensive experience defending DUI and criminal cases in the Central Valley area. Michael E. Mitchell is a member of the prestigious National College of DUI Defense and the California DUI Lawyers Association. He is also a certified field sobriety instructor and practitioner.

For more information, contact us today.

Category: DUI Defense

Michael Mitchell


Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.