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How Is Science Used To Defend Prescription Medication Cases?

The scientific aspect when dealing with prescription medication is somewhat interesting. We recently had a case that I think helps the defense community when it comes to prescription medications. The defense for one count of the DUI charge is that if the person was taking prescription medication as prescribed, then it would be a defense to simply have the drug present in their system while driving.

The question then becomes how to prove that drug was a prescription medication and how to prove it was being taken as prescribed. This would simply require the person to be put on the stand so they could say they were prescribed the medication.

You Might Have To Take The Stand Yourself To Defend Your Case

Prosecutors tend to fight this type of testimony coming out at trial because they claim it would be hearsay for the person to take the stand and testify they were taking prescription medication. Some prosecutors and courts literally want the doctor to have to come into court to say they prescribed the medication to the defendant.

The court may also want a printout from a pharmacy showing that the defendant had been prescribed the medication at the time, and they may also want the pharmacists to come in to testify they had provided the person with the prescription medication.

In reality, considering how many DUI cases there are and how many cases go to trial, it seems absolutely ridiculous to expect to take a doctor away from their medical practice or to take a pharmacist away from their pharmacy just to come to court to testify.

It would seem like a waste of time for them, and it would seem like a horrible waste of money because realistically doctors would not want to leave their medical practice unless they were being paid just to show up to court to testify for a few minutes.

This is a problem that a lot of lawyers have to face when dealing with a prescription medication DUI case at trial, even though it really does not make sense.

Even if the defense could bring in the doctor to testify they had prescribed the medication, and even if they were able to bring the pharmacist to say they had provided the medication to the defendant, and even if the defendant then took the stand to say the medication they were taking had been prescribed to them, there would still be the issue of whether the medication was being taken as prescribed.

Neither a doctor nor pharmacist could testify that the defendant was taking the medication as prescribed, because technically, the only person who could testify to that would be the person themselves.

This would require the person to take the stand and testify on their own behalf, which would actually have to be by their own choice.

However, in a prescription medication case, they actually would have to take the stand to testify because that would be the only evidence that they were actually taking the medication as prescribed, unless they had a caregiver who could take the stand to testify they were responsible for giving the person their medication every day.

The Caregiver could testify to the amount they were giving and that they had made sure the medication was being taken as prescribed.

It Would Be Difficult To Establish Therapeutic Levels Of Medications For Different People

Science can come into play because they could test the medication to see how many nanograms per milliliter of active medication was found in the person’s system.

They could compare that to what would be considered therapeutic levels to see if it fell within guidelines of whether the medication was within therapeutic levels, whether it was under therapeutic levels or whether it was within the range where abuse might be considered.

The problem is that simply because the medication was within or outside of therapeutic levels would not necessarily mean the medication was actually being taken as prescribed. It might be possible the person was taking the medication for so long that their body started to get used to it and they had built up a tolerance.

In this case if their blood was tested, the amount of medication in their system would be above what would normally be considered as therapeutic levels. Although for them, they would still be taking the medication as prescribed. They would just need to take a higher dose because they had built up a tolerance to that medication over the years.

There is not really a lot of evidence to go against that. They could try to argue therapeutic levels and the prosecutor could try to mention that the person was outside the therapeutic levels, but ultimately just because someone was inside or outside the therapeutic levels would not mean they were not taking the medication as prescribed.

Another potential issue with prescription medication is that on occasion, someone would say they had taken the medication they had been prescribed years ago, because in that case we would need to figure out how that would come into play when talking about taking the medication as prescribed.

Sometimes, medication that had been prescribed years ago might be part of a prescription to take the medication as needed so there would not actually be a deadline or timeline for how long the person was supposed to take the medication.

It would not mean the defense would be destroyed simply because someone took a really old medication as long as the medication did not instruct the person to take one pill everyday for the next 30 days. In that case, if they needed to take the medication years later, so they started taking it again, then they would technically be taking it within the prescription.

It can sometimes get very complicated, and prescription drug or prescription medication DUI cases tend to go to trial more often because people do not like the idea of taking responsibility and pleading guilty to a crime simply for taking medication and driving.

For more information on Using Science To Defend Prescription Medication DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling 480-900-0384 today.

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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“I am one of only a handful of Phoenix DUI Lawyers that focuses solely on DUI Defense representation.”

I have spent my entire career SOLELY focused on Arizona DUI Defense Representation, having personally defended more than 4,400 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) clients in the past 19+ years.

If you’re looking for a Divorce Attorney, Tax Attorney, Civil Attorney, etc., I can comfortably say, "I’m not the one for you." I ONLY defend DUI cases in most of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Coming up with traditional, as well as outside-the-box motions and defenses for my clients, often with good results, is the hallmark of my practice.

Lawyers that say they are "aggressive" or "will fight for you" are a dime a dozen. They use these phrases because it is a proven advertising phrase. Being "aggressive" isn’t the same as being good, and is often used to put on a show to hide the fact that they aren’t doing anything meaningful for the client.

The same is true for the Lawyers claiming to do DUI Defense, and Criminal Cases, and Accident Cases, and Divorces, etc. A Jack-of-all-Trades is a master of none! By handling all sorts of cases, they take away from their ability to truly focus on DUIs, and keep up-to-date on the latest changes in DUI Defense Representation.

What I offer is intelligent, quality DUI Defense at an exceptional price. Unlike many other law firms, if you hire The Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan, you actually get me representing you, doing all the work, and working the case. You aren’t hiring one guy with all the experience, but getting the underling with very little knowledge or experience.

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Over the years, countless people have come to me after discovering that their first lawyer made a mistake, gave them false hope or false promises, or simply took their money and didn't do much to advance their case. And you would be surprised at how often this happens.

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