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Legally Prescribed Medication May Lead to a DUI/DWI Conviction

There are many people who don’t realize the legal use of drugs and prescription medication can result in a DUI/DWI conviction.

Every state has two types of DUI charges – per se and impairment. With per se DUI charges, the amount of alcohol or drugs in a driver’s system is considered. This means drivers are convicted of per se DUIs if they have a BAC of 0.08 percent (or higher), regardless of what a driver has drunk. There are some states that have drug DUI laws that prohibit someone from driving with a specific blood concentration of illegal drugs, too.

With impairment DUI charges, it is based on the effects of alcohol or drugs on the driver. States have unique ways of defining if someone is impaired; however, in many, drivers are considered to be “under the influence” if the substances consumed or ingested have a substantial effect on a driver.

The laws related to impairment DUI apply to any intoxicating substances. This means it doesn’t matter if a driver’s impairment resulted from an illegal or legal substance or if the driver had received a prescription from their doctor.

The DUI/DWI Laws in Kansas and Missouri

With that in mind, there are some states that have limited DUI defense for those who have taken prescription medications. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in Missouri or Kansas.

One of the first things drivers in these states should understand is that it’s not possible to use the “my doctor prescribed it” defense. The law doesn’t care if you took a care that you took a drug medically prescribed that led to the DUI charge.

For Missouri and Kansas, the legal framework is based on incapacity. This means that any chemical substance that’s believed to result in you being unable to safely operate a moving vehicle is going to fall under the code that relates to violating the rules of the road.

How DUI/DWI Convictions Involving Prescription Drugs are Proven

To successfully convict for a DWI/DUI relating to prescription drugs, the prosecution must prove that three things occurred:

  • The driver in question attempted to or actually operated a motor vehicle
  • During the course of operation, the driver was under the influence of a drug/prescription medication
  • The influence the drug had resulted in the driver being unable to operate the vehicle safely

Unfortunately, there are issues when you attempt to prove the final two elements related to a DUI/DWI case involving prescription drugs. One is that prescription medications will vary greatly regarding the effects and influences they have on each person. Also, there are some medications that remain traceable for days after being taken, though their effects will have worn off.

Due to these factors, if you are ever charged with a DUI or DWI due to prescription medication, contact Kitchin Law.  We have experience with these types of cases and can help provide the strong defense you need to achieve a successful outcome for your case.


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