According to the Huffington Post, roughly 7 out of every 10 Americans take some form of prescription medication on a regular basis. While this may not be surprising, the prevalence of prescription medicines is actually even more widespread than this report sounds. Indeed, more than 50 percent of Americans take 2 or more medications, and an incredible 20 percent take at least 5 prescriptions regularly.
With so many people on prescriptions, it is important to note that you can actually get a ticket for driving while on a prescription medication. Worse yet, if you don’t have your prescription with you, then you can even face criminal charges in Maryland. While this might seem harsh or even unfair (and it often is), the law is pretty clear about what constitutes a crime. A drug traffic stop can start simply enough and end with serious charges.
Section 21-902(c)(1) of Maryland’s Revised Statutes makes it unlawful to drive while impaired by a substance (alcohol, drugs, or any combination thereof), which alters a person’s ability to “drive a vehicle safely.” But what does this actually mean?
In general, a typical breathalyzer test is designed to measure a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Therefore, police use the results of these tests as a form of evidence for proving impairment and intoxication. If your BAC is above the legal limit of 0.08%, then the law will consider you per se intoxicated. But when your impairment is due to something other than alcohol (something a breath test can’t measure), then the police can use other forms of evidence to prove you are unfit to drive.
Police will typically resort to using the same tactics and methods they use for proving any crime. For instance, you may be required to take a field sobriety test. If you fail this by not being able to stand, being shaky, or having hyper-dilated pupils, these could be enough to make a police officer suspicious. Likewise, the police officer’s skill and experience can be taken into consideration, as well as testimony from drug recognition experts, blood testing, paraphernalia found on your person or in your vehicle, testimony of others who saw you using drugs, or even video footage of your driving, can all be proof of your impairment.
It’s also important to note that just having a prescription does not automatically get you out of your charges. If the medication you are taking is known to cause impairment or has a warning to not operate a vehicle, this can actually be used against you as evidence of your impairment. Remember that possession of a prescription narcotic without a prescription is a crime of its own. This can be brought as a criminal drug possession charge, which is very different from a DWI/DUI.
If you show signs of impairment, police can arrest you. Once in custody, they will attempt to get you to confess to using drugs or alcohol. You should not speak to police at all. Instead, call the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. in Maryland right away, or have someone you trust call for you. Demand to speak with your attorney before even thinking about answering questions or agreeing to a plea deal. Remember that every single word you say can be used as evidence against you. Let your lawyer do the talking for you. It’s your right for a reason.
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