Interviewer: What are the most common types of medication that you are seeing attributed to drug-related DUIs?
Brian: A lot of Ambien, a lot of Zoloft, and Carisoprodol. Now we’re seeing more marijuana under Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, which is arguing is the impairment on par with a prescription medication if it isn’t considered a prescription medication itself. Anything that’s impairing is also prescribed.
Arizona Lists Hundreds of Drugs as Having Impairing Properties
The state of Arizona lists hundreds of types of drugs that it considers illegal substances or impairing substances. Almost anyone who’s taking medication can fall into one of those categories, including the people who are taking Adderall for their ADD. Adderall is considered a type of drug that can cause impairment.
Over-the-Counter Drugs Can Also Have Impairing Properties
Interviewer: What about over-the-counter medications like Nyquil? I know if I take Nyquil I’m pretty woozy afterwards.
Brian: Nyquil can contain alcohol. Lots of medications contain alcohol and many medications can contain drugs that can lead to impairment. There is one over-the-counter medication that can even result in methamphetamine appearing in your system. You’re never really safe and it really needs to come down to if you feel that you are impaired by whatever. If you eat a banana and you feel that you’re impaired, you don’t drive.
Do Medications Remain in One’s System Longer than Alcohol?
Interviewer: How long did medications stay in one’s system generally?
Brian: Arguably, medication and the metabolites of the medication can always be in someone’s system. If they are taking medication daily, the combination of the active ingredient of the medication and the metabolites can always be present in a person’s system.
Drug-Related DUIs Are More Defensible than Alcohol-Related DUIs
I will say that medication DUI cases tend to be much better at trial. I have gone forward I think on every one of my medication DUI cases, I’ve been able to convince the jury to find my client not guilty. They are generally better cases to go to trial, but unfortunately, they tend to be the type of cases that really need to go to trial.
I’d say on just about every one of my medication DUI cases, I have attempted to convince the prosecutor just to dismiss the case out right. Usually they refuse to do it, but when you put it in front of a jury and you put it in front of members of the community who probably take medication themselves, they understand that first; people need to take their medications. They understand the concept of, “This person’s been on this medication for ten years, hasn’t had any problems before. Why all of a sudden are they being arrested for DUI now?” It tends to be a much better argument in front of a jury than something like alcohol DUIs.