Prescription Drug DWI Charges in Kansas City, Missouri
It is fair to say that most people know that if you use illegal drugs, such as heroin, you stand to receive a charge of DWI. Equally, most people are aware that taking another person’s prescription drugs and operating a motor vehicle will also likely end in a DWI charge. What might come as a surprise, however, is that it is possible to be charged with a DWI for driving while taking your own prescription drugs. In the state of Missouri, the law has no exception for operating a motor vehicle while impaired from your own legally-obtained prescriptions. If it can be proven by the State that you are intoxicated and that the intoxication you are under correlates to the type of impairment associated with the prescription drug discovered in your blood system, you stand to be convicted. Most people have been prescribed a drug (something like Xanax or Vicodin) at various times. It is wrong, however, to assume that you have the right to drive.
If you have been prescribed any sort of drug that contains a warning about operating heavy equipment or machinery, it is safe to say that you should not drive your car. You may want to consult your doctor and your pharmacist, since prescription drugs affect people differently. If you get pulled over and you have taken prescription drugs that may have impaired you, or feel that you might be intoxicated, remember the following things:
- Immediately pull over as soon as is safe, place the automobile in park, roll down the window, and produce your insurance card and the registration for the vehicle. Provide it to the law enforcement officer once he or she has approached your window.
- Inform the law enforcement officer that you prefer not to proceed answering any questions the officer may have until you have spoken to your lawyer. It is a common mistake on many people’s part to assume that just because you have cooperated with the officer, you may avoid being taken to jail, which is nearly never true. It is the responsibility of the officer to compile every piece of evidence if he or she feels you have violated the law. The only way you will know whether what you say or do will harm you is if you were a DWI lawyer with ample experience in handling DWI cases. The best thing to do is invoke your right to remain silent. If it is in the middle of the night, it is highly unlikely you will actually communicate with a lawyer; however, it does mean you do not have to answer any questions and should you talk to your lawyer, he or she would tell you to remain silent.
- If you are asked by the law enforcement officer to get out of your vehicle, do so, but be aware that the officer has been trained to recognize behavior and balance. He or she will be intently observing how you open the door, if you needed to lean on the handle of the door to stand, and whether or not you are capable of walking without stumbling or falling.
- At this point, the officer will want to conduct several field sobriety tests, of which, he or she will want your consent to begin. You will want to politely inform the officer that you do not wish to submit to any tests until you have spoken with your lawyer. The officer may tell you that only a guilty person would avoid the tests; however, you will want to politely reiterate your desire to speak with a lawyer. Do not fall prey to the officer attempting to bait you into submitting to any field sobriety tests.
- It is not illegal, at this time, to deny submitting to a breathalyzer. The portable breathalyzers that officers carry are known to be inconsistent and unreliable.
- It is likely that at this point the officer will arrest you. In most cases, this would have happened whether you submitted to the field sobriety tests or not so do not be concerned. If you had taken the tests, you would have only added to the evidence the officer collected against you. At this time the officer will have the read you the Miranda Rights, the right to remain silent, have an attorney, your statements can and will be used against you, before proceeding with any question wherein which you may incriminate yourself. You will again state that you do not wish to answer any questions until your lawyer is present. Most people would fare far better had they not made comments implying that they knew they should not be driving or that they drank well beyond the legal limit.
- The officer will read you Missouri’s Implied Consent Warnings meaning that he would like you to submit to blood and/or urine testing because he or she feels you are intoxicated by way of alcohol or drugs. If you have not consumed any alcohol or you know you are below the legal limit of 0.08% BAC, then it will not hurt you to blow. This will establish two different things; one, you will not have your license suspended and, two, you will show that you have not been drinking while driving.
- As one of the last steps, the officer may try to convince you to submit to a drug recognition evaluation (DRE) which is a twelve step test that evaluates your vital signs, balance, and inquiries that would be incriminating about for you. Reiterate that you deserve to speak with your lawyer before proceeding with the DRE.
In closing, it is a crime to operate a vehicle while intoxicated via your own prescription drugs and you should absolutely avoid it at all costs. However, it is of the utmost importance to be knowledgeable of your rights in the event that you are pulled over by law enforcement.
The most important thing to take away from reading this article is that you can and do need to tell the law enforcement officer that you prefer to speak with a lawyer before doing or saying anything. If you have been charged in a DWI drug case, or if there is something in this article you are curious about, please call our law office immediately (816-307-0404) to schedule your private consultation at no cost to you.