Is a valid prescription a defense to DWI charges based on drugs?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2016 | Drunk Driving

Medical advances are commonly given a great deal of credit in increasing life expectancy. In addition to medical treatments and protocols, many people in Minnesota rely on prescription medications to control serious conditions. Unfortunately, the use of necessary prescription medications — even when duly prescribed — can be the basis of a Minnesota DWI charge.

Nearly Half Of The Population Has Taken A Prescription In The Past Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48.7 percent of Americans have used at least one prescribed drug in the past 30 days – nearly 22 percent of the population has needed three different drugs for therapeutic reasons in that same time frame. While not every drug will impact a person’s mental facilities and ability to drive, many people are stunned to learn that something that a doctor has prescribed as necessary can lead to a criminal charge.

Moreover, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that more than 52 million Americans over the age of twelve have taken drugs without a proper prescription. Any person who drives a car under the influence of a controlled substance is at risk of being pulled over for driving while impaired. If pills are found during the traffic stop without a valid prescription and its container, the stakes could be higher bringing in the likelihood for drug possession charges.

Just like with alcohol-related offenses, the Minnesota drunk driving laws give prosecutors two avenues to try to prove impairment based upon a controlled substance. Testimony concerning driving behavior and observations of trained police officers are often used to prove impairment. If a chemical test shows the presence of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance (including oxycodone, Ritalin, codeine or Adderrall), the law presumes impairment based on the chemical test, according to Minnesota Statutes, Sections 152 and 169A.

Understand Your Rights

It is important for you to understand that a valid prescription is not a defense to DWI charges involving the controlled substance. It is also vital for you to know that anyone accused of DWI has the right to present a defense — an experienced criminal defense lawyer can review your case and explain all of your legal options.