the person in question, had taken prescribed medications(class II narcotics) as the persons doctor had prescribed. when the police officer approached the vehicle, insurance, and drivers licence was given, and the officer stated, that you can be taken by ambulance to the hospital, or i will arrest you for DUI. while the driver was at the hospital, the officer came back with the insurance paperwork, and licence, along with a ticket for careless driving. so the question is, can the driver be recharged with a higher charge? does the driver need a lawyer?
Speeding / Traffic Ticket Lawyer
Yes, the driver needs a lawyer because the driver was arrested and is charged with a serious traffic offense. I am not a lawyer in Colorado, but the driver should seek the assistance of a Colorado criminal defense attorney immediately to protect the driver's rights.
It's unclear what happened after the officer's ultimatum other than that the driver arrived at the hospital in some fashion. But a DUI can arise from alcohol or drugs, and prescription drugs still affect driving - the fact that drugs are prescribed does not negate a DUI charge. A prosecutor can seek to amend a charge - that is, change the charge to something else (like a DUI) if there is probable cause to do so, and often if the prosecutor believes that the evidence is sufficient to warrant an amended charge. Other factors often go into charging decisions, but sufficient evidence is an influential factor.
DUI / DWI Attorney
A motorist in Colorado can be charged with DUI for driving while the abilities are substantially impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and drugs. This is true even when the drugs are legally prescribed and taken according to a doctor's orders.
That being said, these cases are certainly defensible and this motorist should absolutely consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. There are serious driver's license ramifications to a DUI charge in Colorado and your right to a hearing must be preserved within 7 days of being charged.
Best of luck.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Both Mr. Zimmerman and Buckley are correct for the most part as it relates to needing a lawyer.
A defendant (accused) has the absolute right to self representation. You never "need" a lawyer. However, it may not be wise or prudent not to have a lawyer. Just imagine you are to fight against a professional and well trained boxer but you are also allowed to name a substitute boxer to take your place. It would be wise and prudent on your part to hire a competent, experienced, and dedicated professional boxer to take your place and fight the other professional boxer. By doing so, you have just increased your chances of a fair fight and chances of success exponentially.
Similarly, by hiring a lawyer you have done just that - increased your chances of a fair fight, leveled the playing field and your chances of success. The police and prosecutors are well trained, skilled, and experienced. You should have the same or at the least close to the same.
Yes, the police or prosecutors can add, amend, dismiss charges are they deem fit provided they have probable cause to do so. Just because the police or prosecution add charges does not automatically prejudice the accused. Generally, the police or prosecution can add, amend, dismiss charges at any time prior to the case being submitted to the fact finder (a jury or judge). The caveat being they would not be allowed to do so, if the substantial rights of the accused or defendant is adversely effected or is unfairly prejudiced.
One must remember that the police and prosecution must have a good faith basis and also have at the very minimum probable cause to add a charge or charge a person with a crime. However, they do not have to have beyond a reasonable doubt to charge a crime. The beyond a reasonable doubt standard is required to convict a person of a crime. These are two different standards and come to play at different stages of criminal proceedings.
As a former prosecutor, I would add charges (provided I had probable cause) just before trial but I always gave defendant or defense counsel fair notice of such additional charges. I never added charges commence the trial commenced.
DUI / DWI Attorney
As my esteemed colleagues have pointed out, the short answer is yes. The DA always has the right to amend charges prior to trial. The issue here boils down to what evidence the DA has and what are the circumstances surrounding this case.
It does not matter that the drugs were prescribed. It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence or impaired to the slightest degree by drugs, alcohol or a combination of both. I always recommend that people facing criminal charges consult with an attorney. Consultations should be free and you should always take advantage of free advice. Upon speaking with several attorneys the person in questions should be able to gauge the seriousness of the offense and whether it is prudent to hire an attorney.