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Prescription Drug DUI

A charge of DUI involving prescription drugs carries the same severe penalties as a DUI involving alcohol or illegal drugs. You can be charged with DUI even if the 'drug' is legal and you have a valid prescription for it. A conviction can result in jail time, a suspension of your driver's license, fines, and other penalties.

Aside from criminal penalties, an individual can face collateral consequences such as difficulty obtaining housing, loss of professional licenses, and hindrance in obtaining employment opportunities.

If you have been arrested for prescription drug DUI, receive quality representation today by contacting Galigani Law Firm.

Gainesville Prescription Drug DUI Defense Lawyer

Facing your driving under the influence of prescription drugs charge in Florida can be an overwhelming, stressful experience. The qualified DUI defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm in Gainesville have around 50 years of combined legal experience and know what it takes to expose any weak links in the prosecution's case to help your situation. 

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs in Alachua County, Bradford County, Marion County, Levy County, Gilchrist County, Columbia County, Baker County, or Union County, put the criminal defense specialization and years of experience of the Galigani Law Firm behind you. Your first consultation concerning your Gainesville prescription drug DUI case with Galigani Law Firm is free, so call (352) 375-0812 today to schedule yours.

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Definition of Florida Prescription Drug DUI in Alachua County

In Florida, you can be arrested for prescription drug DUI if you are in actual physical control of a vehicle with your normal faculties impaired by prescription drugs, such as the ones listed below.

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Ambien
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Darvocet
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Prozac
  • Atavan
  • GHB
  • Soma
  • Klonopin
  • Lortab
  • Lorcet
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Lunesta
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Seconal
  • Quaaludes
  • Morphine
  • Suboxone
  • Methadone

This even includes drugs you have a valid doctor's prescription for. Hundreds of prescription drugs, including many prescription drugs that are commonly used by people who drive safely every day, are considered “controlled substances” under Florida law. You even can even be arrested and charged for a prescription drug DUI if you are accused of being under the influence of a prescription drug that is not on Florida's list of “controlled substances.”

Actual physical control of a vehicle includes driving, but you can also be considered in actual physical control of a vehicle even if you are not driving. A number of factors contribute to determining whether you were in actual physical control of a vehicle, such as your location in or around the car, whether you had the keys in your possession or on your person, and whether the vehicle is operable.

"Normal faculties" are defined by Fla. Stat. § 316.1934 as including the ability to see, hear, talk, walk, make judgments, and normally perform general mental and physical activities of daily life. If you lack full possession of normal faculties, you are considered impaired.

It is, therefore, possible to be charged with a prescription drug DUI under Florida law in Gainesville or the surrounding area if a police officer claims your faculties are impaired even if you did not take any drugs other than your normal prescriptions, or if you were napping in your car while legally parked. No matter the circumstances surrounding your prescription drug DUI charge, whether you were driving or met other elements under Florida law, the advice of an experienced prescription drug DUI defense lawyer serving the Gainesville area is highly recommended.

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Penalties for Prescription Drug DUI in Florida

The penalties that come with a conviction for a prescription drug DUI in Florida are the same as those for a conviction of a DUI involving illegal drugs or alcohol, which are severe and can vary based on the circumstances of your particular case. By law in Fla. Stat. § 316.193, a first conviction for prescription drug DUI results in penalties of:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • $500-$1,000 fine;
  • 50 hours of community service, up to half of which the court may allow you to "buy out" as prescribed in Fla. Stat. § 316.193(6)(a) at a rate of $10 an hour;
  • 6-12 months of a driver's license suspension, in addition to any administrative penalties;
  • Level I or Level II DUI school, which may include an evaluation for drug abuse as well as mandate continued treatment; and
  • Immobilization or impoundment of your vehicle for ten days, which will occur while you are out of jail.

A prescription drug DUI, like any DUI involving illegal drugs or alcohol, is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor even if you have no prior convictions, which means you will be required to disclose it on most Florida job applications. It can, therefore, affect your future educational and professional opportunities. If you are considering the services of an experienced Gainesville area prescription drug DUI defense lawyer as a part of your defense strategy, it is best to contact such an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.

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Enhanced Penalties for Florida Prescription Drug DUI

Certain circumstances are considered aggravating circumstances for any DUI charge. If your children or grandchildren under the age of 18 were with you in the car, or you were otherwise accompanied by a minor in the commission of your prescription drug DUI offense, you will face additional penalties. Your prescription drug DUI penalties will be enhanced to a maximum jail sentence of one year, and a fine of $2,000-$4,000.

You face more severe penalties if you have previously been convicted of any similar drug or alcohol related driving offenses anywhere in the country, even if this is the first prescription drug DUI or first DUI of any type you have been charged with in Florida. Under Florida Statute § 316.193, any previous DUI conviction in Florida or any previous conviction outside Florida for “driving under the influence,” “driving while intoxicated,” “driving with an unlawful blood-alcohol level,” “driving with an unlawful breath-alcohol level,” “driving while ability impaired by alcohol,” or any other similar alcohol-related or drug-related traffic offense is considered a “prior conviction” that will lead to higher penalties for a conviction of prescription drug DUI in Florida.

You face even harsher punishments if you are accused of causing or even contributing to cause property damage, injury, or death.

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Defenses to a Prescription Drug DUI Charge

Some defenses may be available to fight a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. For example, the prosecution must prove that your faculties were actually “impaired” and not merely “weakened.” Simply having some amount of drugs in your system may not be sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were “impaired” or "under the influence" of the drug. This is especially true if you have been taking the prescription drugs for a long period of time and have developed a tolerance for them. A forensic toxicologist can testify on your behalf that you have developed a tolerance over time for the prescription drugs you take, and prescription records can verify the length of time you have been taking the medications.

If a field sobriety test is used against you, you may be able to explain that illness, disability, sleep deprivation, anxiety, or other medical issues impaired your faculties rather than the prescription drugs.

You may be able to successfully argue that you were not voluntarily under the influence of the prescription drugs. If you accidentally took more than your normal dose of the prescription drugs, mistakenly took the wrong medication, or had an adverse reaction to a prescription drug that is not a normal result of that medication, it can be a successful defense to the charge that you did not voluntarily place yourself under the influence of the prescription drugs.

If the police officer testifying against you is not a trained and certified Drug Recognition Technician or Drug Recognition Expert, the testimony of the officer can be shown to be unreliable.

You can point out that just because a prescription drug shows up in a urine test, it does not mean you were under the influence of the prescription drug while you were driving. Prescription drugs can still show up in your urine after they have passed completely out of your bloodstream, and you are no longer under the influence of the prescription drugs. Many prescription drugs will still show up in tests several days or even a month after you have taken them.

An experienced prescription drug DUI defense lawyer serving the Gainesville area can help you fight against these charges and any enhanced penalties following an arrest for prescription drug DUI.

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Additional Resources

Florida Statutes: DUI - Access the official website for the Florida Statutes to view information regarding the driving under the influence offense. You can view penalties and definitions for terms related to the crime.

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Prescription Medicines - Access the official website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse to read about prescription medicines. You can view important statistics and other resources.

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Gainesville Prescription Drug DUI Lawyer | Alachua County, FL

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, contact the experienced DUI defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm. They will do whatever it takes to fight for a favorable outcome for your Gainesville driving under the influence of prescription drugs case.

To schedule your free initial DUI case consultation with the Galigani Law Firm, call (352) 375-0812 today. Galigani Law Firm accepts prescription drug DUI cases in Gainesville or the surrounding areas, including Alachua County, Ocala in Marion County, and Lake City in Columbia County.

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