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Can a driver be charged with DUI in Sarasota without alcohol being involved?

Posted by attorney David Haenel

If the driver has not been drinking, but they are under the influence of a controlled substance or prescription medication, they can still be charged with a DUI in Sarasota. The same laws apply, except the blood alcohol is not measured. A DUI Defense Attorney is still needed in Sarasota in order to defend these charges.

Over the Counter Medicines Are Just as Dangerous

There are a number of drugs and medications that can impair a driver's ability to be safe on the roads. In many cases, these substances have the same impact on the driver as alcohol, or worse. This holds true for prescription medications, as well as medications that are available over the counter. Some examples of medications that are available over the counter that can affect a driver's ability to stay safe are:

  • Cold medications
  • Headache medicines
  • Allergy or hay fever medicines
  • Diet pills
  • Speed, "uppers," or pep pills

The best way to ensure you will not be stopped for driving under the influence of a controlled substance is to check the labels of all medicines before getting behind the wheel. That way, if there are any warnings or side effects listed that will impair driving, you know ahead of time not to drive.

What Tests Are Conducted?

Because controlled substances cannot be detected through use of a breath test, this is not conducted. However, a blood or urine test can be conducted in order to prove that the driver is under the influence. As with a DUI arrest involving alcohol, the driver has the right to refuse to take a chemical test. The driver should be aware, however, that based upon implied consent they could face stiff penalties.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance?

Driving under the influence of drugs or controlled substances has penalties that are the same as driving under the influence of alcohol.

  • Driver's License Suspension
  • DUI School
  • Fines
  • Jail Time
  • Probation
  • Vehicle Impoundment

How severe each of these penalties is for the driver is fully dependent on how severe the offense is and if they are a repeat offender, in addition to other factors. For example, if this is the driver's first time being arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, then they could receive a $1,000 fine and up to six months of jail time. Another example is that penalties are much stricter for drivers who are third time offenders. In those cases the driver could spend up to five years in jail and they could receive a fine for up to $5,000.

What Should the Driver Do Following Their Arrest?

The first thing a driver should do is hire an experienced DUI attorney. Even though alcohol was not involved in the arrest, the driver can still retain a DUI attorney because they are still under the influence of a controlled substance. The attorney will work with the driver to build the strongest defense possible. The driver should be as cooperative with the attorney as possible in order to ensure all the evidence is gathered.

Additional resources provided by the author

Finebloom & Haenel, P.A.
200 North Washington Blvd.
Sarasota, Fl 34236
(941) 953-2622

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