As prescription drug use rises, so do prescription drug-related DUI cases
Historically, the term driving under the influence, DUI, was inherently associated with driving under the influence of alcohol. In recent years, however, Tennessee courts are increasingly dealing with DUID cases, or driving under the influence of drugs. Tennessee law has always encompassed a prohibition against driving under the influence of any intoxicant including controlled substances, marijuana, prescription medications, substances affecting the central nervous system or any combination that deprives one of a clear mind and control and impairs a driver's ability to operate a motor vehicle. However, statistics indicate that legally prescribed prescription drugs in particular account for a large number of DUI cases.
Over the past ten years, prescription drug use and abuse have increased significantly. In Tennessee, there were 422 prescription drug overdose deaths in 2001 and 1,059 in 2010, a 250% increase in just ten years. Separately, from prescription drug abuse, everyday use of prescription medicine is increasing exponentially. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 48% of the U.S. population uses at least one prescription drug. The most common prescription drugs that lead to DUI charges are hydrocodone medicines such as Vicodin and Lortab, anxiety medicines including Xanax and oxycodone. With these types of numbers, it is understandable that more and more people are being charged with driving under the influence of drugs.
Unlike blood alcohol content limits for alcohol use, there is no threshold for the amount of drugs you're allowed to have in your system. Any amount of drugs detected may be enough to charge you with DUID. Many people mistakenly think that as long as they have a prescription for the medicine they are taking, they are immune to criminal charges. However, Tennessee law states that merely having a prescription that allows the use of such drugs is not a defense to driving under the influence.
The penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are the same as traditional DUI involving alcohol. A DUID conviction may result in incarceration, fines, community service, mandatory substance abuse treatment and license suspension or revocation. Whether you've just been arrested for the first time or have a history of multiple DUI arrests and convictions, the Tennessee DUI attorneys at Dotson & Taylor are ready to take on your case and fight for you. To discuss your case during a free initial consultation, contact the firm at 615-890-1982 or online today.