In the state of Washington, it is a crime to drive while under the influence of alcohol or any drug. This means, like driving drunk, driving while you are high on any drug (controlled substance DUI) can lead to severe criminal consequences.
Being convicted of a controlled substance DUI can result in a criminal record, a large fine, incarceration, and the loss of your driving privileges. However, working with an experienced DUI attorney may enable you to minimize the potential consequences or avoid a conviction altogether.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a controlled substance DUI in the state of Washington, call Bugbee Law Office today at (509) 337-5082 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Spokane, Washington DUI attorney.
What is a Controlled Substance?
Controlled substances are medications and drugs restricted under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and Washington’s own Uniform Controlled Substances Act. These substances include illicit drugs such as:
- Crystal Meth
As well as certain prescription medications like:
- Tylenol with codeine
- Certain cough suppressants
The possession, use, sale, and distribution of these substances are restricted by federal and state law because of their high potential for abuse and physical or emotional dependency.
Understanding a Controlled Substance DUI
Being charged with a controlled substance DUI in the state of Washington is very similar to being charged with a traditional DUI involving alcohol. However, while a traditional DUI arrest occurs when the driver is intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level at or above 0.08%, having any amount of certain controlled substances in your system can be enough for the state to arrest you and pursue charges against you.
This means you can be arrested, charged, and convicted of a controlled substance DUI even if you were not impaired by the substance at the time of your arrest. What’s more, the state will not hesitate to prosecute you if it believes there is enough evidence to prove that your ability to drive safely was impaired at the time of the arrest, whether you had a valid prescription for the controlled substance in your system or not.
The Criminal Consequences of a Controlled Substance DUI Conviction in Washington
In the state of Washington, it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, or by any combination of alcohol and drugs (RCW 46.61.502). The criminal consequences of a controlled substance DUI are the same as for a DUI involving alcohol:
- A fine of up to $5000
- Up to 364 days in jail.
In addition, depending on your criminal history, you may be sentenced to a period of probation, drug counseling, and a suspended license. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on each of your vehicles.
The potential penalties will be more severe for each subsequent DUI conviction. Furthermore, you will be subject to even more severe penalties if you had a child in the vehicle when you were arrested.
Defending a Controlled Substance DUI Charge
Modern medicine seems to have a pill for everything, and you may have been on one or more medications when you were stopped by the police. But this does not make you a criminal unless your driving was impaired by whatever substance you were taking.
To convict you of a controlled substance DUI, the state will not only need to prove that you had a controlled substance in your system, but also that it affected you to the point that your ability to drive safely was impaired.
Since a traditional breathalyzer test is useless in determining if a person was driving under the influence of a drug, the state will usually base its case on the results of chemical blood and urine tests.
But these tests are inherently unreliable and can be challenged on a number of grounds. Even a properly administered chemical test can be challenged by an experienced DUI attorney.
Some drugs can remain in your blood or urine for up to 30 days after they were used. So, a chemical test showing the presence of those drugs does not prove that you were under the influence of the drugs at the time of your arrest. It only proves that there may have been drugs in your system at the time, not that they actually impaired your ability to drive.
In addition to challenging the chemical tests, there may also be grounds to exclude evidence found by the police during your arrest. For instance, if the police officer searched you and your car without probable cause or failed to inform you of your rights, any evidence found may be inadmissible in court.
How Can an Experienced DUI Lawyer Help
If you have been charged with a controlled substance DUI, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you by reviewing every aspect of the state’s investigation.
A good DUI lawyer will know proper police procedure for a DUI arrest, and will be able to determine if the officers performed their exams correctly and came to the right conclusions.
A skilled DUI lawyer will also know the toxicology manuals used by the state’s crime labs and can determine if the lab did its work correctly.
Most controlled substance DUI prosecutions are based on the mere presence of a drug, rather than the amount of the drug found in your blood or urine. But it is often difficult to connect the mere presence of a drug in your blood or urine to any quantifiable impairment.
Our lawyers can use these weaknesses in the state’s case to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. It is important, however, that you contact us before deciding what to do with your controlled substance DUI charge.
Contact Bugbee Law Office P.S. in Spokane, Washington
If you have been charged with a controlled substance DUI in Spokane, Washington, or the surrounding areas, call Bugbee Law Office at (509) 337-5082, or visit our contact page to arrange a free consultation.
Our Washington DUI attorneys have years of experience representing clients in all types of DUI cases. Contact us today for the help you need!
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2016 Bugbee Law Offices, P.S.