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Connecticut defense lawyerIn Connecticut, as in every other state, alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to a DUI charge. Driving while under the influence of drugs, whether illicit or a lawful prescription, may also result in a Connecticut DUI or DWI charge. Importantly, the penalties for a prescription drug-related DUI conviction are no different than those for a traditional, alcohol-based DUI. This is because the duty of safe driving is at issue. All drivers owe this duty to one another, and when one driver endangers another while under the influence, the nature of influencing substance is a secondary concern. Certainly, if the substance is illicit, a DUI charge may be coupled with separate drug charges. As for the DUI component, however, the penalties are the same.

Always Read the Label on Your Prescriptions

Even over-the-counter medicines such as cold remedies and antihistamines may cause one to become drowsy or disoriented and, as such, refrain from getting behind the wheel of a car, truck, or other vehicle. Behind-the-counter medications and treatments, only obtainable with the prescription of a physician, may be magnitudes stronger. This is especially the case with pain medication, some of which are derived from opiates – a very powerful class of drug. Because of this, it is critical that you follow the exact orders of the prescribing physician in taking the prescription, including taking time to read the label and understand any side-effects that you may experience. The duty is on you and an officer arresting you for DUI will not sympathetic to surprise prescription side-effect-related explanations.

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marijuana DUI, Connecticut drug crimes lawyerThe decriminalization of marijuana is a growing trend nationwide. In Washington and Colorado, marijuana has been legalized, while in almost half the states—including Connecticut—it may be used legally only for medical purposes. However, there may be a darker side to these trends: a recent study shows that the number of marijuana-related automobile fatalities has risen sharply in the last decade. The data suggest that drugged driving may be an increasingly common cause of car accidents.

According to a report by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the presence of non-alcohol drugs in the systems of drivers involved in fatal car crashes has been on the rise and has tripled in the last decade. Using data from the states that routinely test the blood of drivers involved in fatal car accidents, the study reported that in 1999, 4.2 percent of drivers who were killed in automobile crashes tested positive for marijuana; in 2010, that number increased to 12.2 percent. The major increase was shown across all ages and in both genders.

The study also showed that alcohol use was more prevalent than drug use in drivers involved in fatal crashes, but that percentage has stayed relatively stable. The presence of all non-alcohol drugs increased from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010. This increase may be attributable to the decriminalization of marijuana as well as the national opioid use epidemic. While all states have laws prohibiting impaired driving, the national trend toward permitting at least limited marijuana use may be a factor in the increased number of drugged-driving incidents.

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