Connecticut Prescription Drug DUI Lawyer
It might be surprising to learn that you can be arrested in Connecticut for a DUI without ever having ingested a drop of an alcoholic beverage. This is because the same Connecticut DUI / DWI laws that make it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol also make it illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, even drugs legally prescribed by your doctor. As the best Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyers would agree, the term “drugs” as it is used in the statute can mean illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, but it can also mean medications that were either purchased over the counter, such as cough medicine, or even medication that a physician legally prescribed to you.
So if you are pulled over or arrested for 14-227a DUI / DWI in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien, Westport or New Canaan, then you should immediately contact a top Connecticut prescription drug DUI lawyer. They could either advise you on whether to take the field sobriety tests, answer any questions, or submit to a blood alcohol content breath or urine test.
Connecticut’s Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Arrest Statute – CGS 14-227a
Any top Fairfeld, Weston or Westport Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyer attorney will point you to Connecticut’s DUI statute – C.G.S. 14-227a. This statute makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with an elevated blood alcohol content. For the purposes of this statute, the word “motor vehicle” can mean any vehicle that is operated on a public highway, but it also includes snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that are known by some as “quads” or “four-wheelers.” Even though a prescription drug will not elevate your blood alcohol content, it can still impair your driving abilities, even if you take it as prescribed.
The best Stamford and Greenwich criminal DUI / DWI attorneys and lawyers know that sometimes medications have warning labels on them that instruct you to refrain from operating motor vehicles or heavy machinery. These warnings are there because certain individuals, although not all, will get a reaction from a prescription drug that causes them to have symptoms that affect their driving abilities – such as loss of balance, altered vision and slowed reflex or reaction times.
Does a Prescription from My Doctor Protect Me from a Connecticut Prescription Drug Arrest?
No. The best Darien, New Canaan and Fairfield Connecticut criminal lawyers and attorneys get this question all the time. Even if you are taking your prescribed medications as directed, you can get arrested in Stamford, New Canaan, Greenwich or elsewhere in Connecticut for CGS 14-227a DUI / DWI. This can be quite startling to drivers, since most people often believe that if a doctor prescribes them medication, then it must be safe to use. The last thing you’re thinking about when you take a prescription medication in accordance with its instructions, is that you might end up in handcuffs when you are in your vehicle driving to the grocery store or to your doctor’s office. While it helps your case that the drug at issue was legally prescribed, it does not prevent an arrest in Connecticut for 14-227a DUI / DWI.
A Connecticut Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Traffic Stop – Getting Pulled Over
There are usually 2 scenarios that result in a traffic stop for suspected Prescription Drug DUI / DWI in Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut. The first occurs when the local police set up a random DUI / DWI sobriety checkpoint. A checkpoint officer will speak with you, observe you closely and may ask you to pull over so they can conduct more testing. The second scenario occurs when you are pulled over because you have violated some motor vehicle law such as speeding, running a red light, having a broken tail light, tinted windows, or failing to stop at a stop sign. During this ordinarily routine traffic stop, top Stamford Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyers know that police officers will carefully scrutinize your speech patterns, motor skills in reaching for your license and car registration, and other physical cues that may indicate you are intoxicated or impaired.
During either of these traffic stops, the officer may ask if you have been drinking or using drugs or taking any prescription drugs, and then ask you to step outside of the vehicle to submit to a field sobriety test or roadside breath test. Remember, it may not be most comfortable situation, but you do not have to answer these questions or take any of these tests. At this point, most people who are arrested for DUI / DWI in Stamford, Ridgefield or Westport Connecticut have the same thought running through their minds when the police officer asks you to step out of their cars: “Should I take these tests?” That’s when you need to call a top Stamford or Wilton Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyer attorney to give you the proper advice on what to do next.
How do the Police Determine if I am Under the Influence?
By using the field sobriety tests. Someone taking medication, even if properly prescribed, that causes unusual and dangerous driving behaviors, is vulnerable to a traffic stop and may be subjected to field sobriety testing.
If an officer suspects DUI, a breath test may be utilized, and if that produces a negative result, blood or urine testing may eventually be employed.
Should You Take the Field Sobriety Test and Breath Test during a Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Arrest?
First, the arresting officer will try and administer the field sobriety tests, which require the officer to observe your eye movements, and to conduct a walking test and a balancing test. Failing the field sobriety test, in and of itself, can result in a DUI arrest for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. Then they will ask you to take a breath test to determine your BAC level (blood alcohol content).
In a prescription drug DUI / DWI arrest, the upside of taking the breath test is that if you have not been consuming alcohol, then you will pass the breath test and the DMV will not be able to suspend your license. If you refuse the breath, blood or urine tests, however, then the DMV can automatically suspend your Connecticut driver’s license for 6 months. Before taking any field or BAC sobriety test, and before answering any questions as to whether you are taking prescription drugs, you should ask the officer if you can contact your top Greenwich DUI / DWI criminal lawyer. Remember, anything you say can and will ultimately be used against you, so be sure to contact a top Westport, Fairfield or New Canaan criminal lawyer attorney as soon as you can during a traffic stop for a suspected Prescription Drug DUI / DWI arrest in Connecticut.
What Happens If I Plead Guilty to a Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Arrest in Connecticut?
Pleading guilty to a drug DUI / DWI or prescription drug DWI / DUI arrest in Darien, Westport or Fairfield Connecticut under C.G.S. 14-227a carries the same consequences as an alcohol DUI conviction. A first-time conviction in Connecticut for a prescription drug DUI will cost you a fine of anywhere between $500 and $1,000, a one-year long suspension of your driver’s license and up to 6 months in jail with a 2-day mandatory minimum jail sentence, or if your top Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyer can persuade the judge or prosecutor, 100 community service hours in lieu of the mandatory jail time. A suspended sentence means that you will not have to serve your jail time as long as you comply with the conditions of your probation. Of course, if this is not your first DUI, then you will be facing much more severe penalties.
What other effects does a Prescription Drug DUI have on my life?
There can be many. A conviction on charges of impairment of any sort while driving, even that which stems from otherwise approved pharmaceuticals can yield dire legal and personal outcomes, including:
- Job loss
- Suspension or revocation of professional licenses
- Burdensome court costs, probation fees and other fines
- Auto insurance premium increases
- Damage to community standing
- Immigration implications
Options for First Time Offender Arrests for Prescription Drug DUI / DWI
For first time recreational or prescription DUI / DWI arrests in Stamford, Greenwich and Dairen Connecticut, you have several options, including trying to convince state prosecutors to drop your case immediately. Or, alternatively, you can apply for a first time offenders diversionary program called the Alcohol Education Program (AEP). This may not make so much sense, since your Connecticut DWI / DUI arrest was the result of drugs and not alcohol, but the courts still allow you to take this course. This diversionary program, codified in C.G.S. 54-56g requires you to attend weekly classes for 10 to 15 weeks as well as a Mothers Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel.
For people whose work, travel, or family schedules make it problematic for you to attend 15 weekly classes consecutively, your top Stamford or New Canaan Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyer attorney may be able to persuade the judge to allow you to attend a single weekend class in New Hampshire. You need special permission for this program, so be sure to ask the best Greenwich Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal attorneys for more information about this program.
Fighting Your Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Arrest in Connecticut Criminal Court
Before applying for the AEP, your top Norwalk, Wilton, Darien, New Canaan or Stamford prescription drug DUI / DWI criminal lawyer should try and convince the district attorney that your case is not a true DUI and that they should drop the case because you did not act recklessly enough to get arrested. The best Connecticut DUI / DWI lawyers in Connecticut will usually ask that you secure a detailed letter from your physician which puts the court on notice that your doctor informed you that you would be able to operate a vehicle while using the prescribed medication, or that the medication should not have had any detrimental effects on your ability to drive.
Before making any applications to first time offenders programs, your top Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyers will also carefully examine your case police reports, witness statements, police video surveillance recordings, and review each and every field sobriety test performed to ensure the validity, accuracy and admissibility of these tests. In Connecticut prescription drug DUI arrest cases, an expert witness is sometime hired to present expert medical opinions to the court on the impact (if any) of the drug at issue on your ability to drive.
How Can I Get the Alcohol Education Program for My Connecticut Arrest for Prescription Drug DUI / DWI?
After a careful review of your case, it may still be in your best interest to apply for the AEP. Here are scenarios where you are NOT eligible for a the AEP after a Connecticut prescription drug DUI / DWI arrest: (1) if you have already used the AEP in the 10 years prior to your application, (2) if you have a DUI / DWI misdemeanor or felony conviction in Connecticut or any other state, or (3) if you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Connecticut. Once you clear these hurdles, you will need to be screened by a counselor from a court-sponsored alcohol education facility such as Crossroads or Connecticut Renaissance. Your top Stamford or Ridgefield Connecticut DUI / DWI criminal lawyer attorney should prepare you for this interview.
At the hearing on your AEP application, your top Connecticut DUI / DWI attorney will make arguments for your admission into the AEP, while the prosecutor may argue against it. The court may also hear from any victims in the case (such as anyone who was injured in your DUI / DWI or anyone who had their car or property damaged in your DUI / DWI car accident). If the court grants your application, then you will be ordered into the program, conditions may be imposed, and your case will be dismissed on a date that is a year from your hearing date. If your application is denied, then you will have to take your Connecticut Prescription Drug DUI / DWI arrest to trial or enter into a plea bargain. This is why it is critical to hire a top Stamford or Ridgefield criminal DUI / DWI lawyer who can present a strong AEP package to the court.
Contact a Prescription Drug DUI / DWI Criminal Lawyer at Mark Sherman Law Today
So if you are arrested for a prescription drug DUI / DWI in Fairfield, Norwalk, Westport, Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut, you should contact an experienced attorney at Mark Sherman Law today. We have years of experience handling all types of drug DUIs and DWIs, and know exactly what we need to do to give you the best chance of getting your prescription drug DUI / DWI arrest dismissed or reduced. A suspended license can be a great burden to you, your family and your employer, especially if you are a parent who needs to get to work and drive your children to and from school, extra-curricular activities and sporting events.
Our goal is to minimize the inconvenience that a prescription drug DUI arrest in Connecticut can pose to your everyday routine, by getting your license restored as soon as possible and clearing your record. Remember, you do not have to take a sobriety test, breath test, urine test, or answer any questions about your prescription medication use without first speaking with an attorney – so ask the officer if you can contact yours! This is exactly why we are available 24/7, to answer all of your questions. Contact us today.