Partner Rich Daubenberger Successfully Defends a DUI Case Involving Prescription Medication

Partner Rich Daubenberger successfully defended, and beat, a recent DUI case involving medication that was legally prescribed to the defendant. The defendant was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance. During the course of the investigation, a toxicology report was completed in which it was found that the defendant had 39 nanograms of amphetamine in his blood and thus exceeded the legal level to be able to drive. The defendant obtained his pharmacy records which showed that he was prescribed 60mg of Vyvanse, a medication often used to treat symptoms of ADHD. The Commonwealth based their argument off the lowest possible prescribed amount. It was their forensic toxicologist’s opinion that the concentration of amphetamine found in the defendant’s blood was indicative of amphetamine intake in pharmacologically significant dosage amounts. However, Partner Rich Daubenberger successfully argued that the amount of prescription narcotics in the defendant’s system was both appropriate and pharmacologically insignificant by utilizing a defense forensic toxicological expert. Even if you are legally taking a medication prescribed to you by your doctor to improve your health, you are still at risk of being charged with a DUI.

When it comes to DUIs, Pennsylvania considers prescription drugs in almost the same light as it does illegal drugs because many prescription medications can render you incapable of safe driving. In Pennsylvania, it is against the law for a person to “drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle” if they are driving under the influence of a controlled substance. DUIs involving prescription medications are based on impairment, meaning that they focus on how the medication affects the driver, such as speech and coordination, rather than the amount present in the body. In Pennsylvania, any amount of a controlled substance, legal or not, can be grounds for being charged with a DUI. As a matter of fact, an officer must only have a reasonable suspicion to believe that you are impaired by drugs to arrest and charge you with a DUI. Cases where an individual is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs often requires a complicated analysis involving blood tests and toxicology reports.

Unlike alcohol impairment, drug impairment cannot be properly determined by roadside tests. After an arrest, a person is requested to give a blood sample. The blood measures the amount of chemical substance present in the body. Blood tests are typically the most reliable way to test for the presence of alcohol or drugs in DUI cases, however, convicting someone of a drug-related DUI is more difficult than convicting someone of an alcohol-related DUI because there is no specific blood concentration that has been deemed illegal for drugs. A DUI charge involving prescription medications can subject you to harsh penalties as many prescription medications fall under Schedule I and Schedule II federal controlled substance laws.

Pursuant to P.S. §3802(c), individuals arrested for a DUI involving any drug, prescribed or not, receive the harshest minimum sentencing penalties. Even a first offense DUI can expose you to penalties such as a misdemeanor criminal record, a one-year license suspension, up to $5,000 in fines, a minimum of 72 hours jail time, and much more. The severity of a penalty is based on how many DUIs have been previously accrued, or if there is an excessive amount of drugs found in the defendant’s blood. Even if this is your first and only arrest, the charges you will face with an arrest for DUI of a prescription medication are more serious than a general impairment, first-time DUI for alcohol. Many people are unaware that prescription medications can put them at risk of being charged with a DUI, and therefore are unsure of how to defend such a charge.

The criminal defense attorneys at Musi, Merkins, Daubenberger & Clark are ready and able to provide the best possible representation to you or a loved one who has been charged with a DUI involving prescription medications. Give our office a call at 610-891-8806 to schedule an appointment.