Alprazolam, the generic name for the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, surpassed marijuana in 2011 as the second-leading cause of impaired driving in Alabama after alcohol, according to data from traffic stops compiled by the Department of Forensic Science. Continue reading more about this here.
While I don’t have the figures for TN, I would assume we are pressing toward a similar situation given my recent “drugged driving” caseload. As the article above mentions, detecting drugged driving requires that an additional blood screen is sent back to the TBA unless the officer requests it along with the BAC. This typically only occurs when a driver is acting exceptionally erratic and/or combative or when there is no indication of alcohol such as odor. In the event that an officer does not suspect a driver of drugged driving and the blood comes back as 0.0 for alcohol, district attorneys will often request the blood to be retested for drugs. The whole country has seen a spike in pharmaceutical drug abuse, however, the southern states have been particularly susceptible to this epidemic. Read more about that here.
What should be of most concern to the public, is the number of people who are actually prescribed medicine and are being arrested and convicted of DUI for driving under prescribed amounts of medicine. At a recent DUI seminar, the famed Dr. Jimmie Valentine, who ironically helped to create some of the original NHTSA studies on drugged driving exclaimed “Would you rather have someone who hasn’t taken their Adderall or hydrocodone driving next to you OR someone who couldn’t concentrate or was in a great deal of pain?” Any reasonable person would have to agree with that statement, right? Unfortunately, most police officers and district attorneys don’t see that line of logic. Police forces around the country are beefing up their officers with additional training such as the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement & the Drug Recognition Expert course as well. That is why it is of utmost importance to hire an attorney who understands what standard operating procedures an officer should employ when making drugged driving arrests. Officers should not be allowed to throw a wide net and arrest you for drunk driving, then call it drugged driving, especially if that medication helps you to function!
We will continue to see these type of arrests continue, fortunately, I know how to handle them!
A bit of advice, if you are taking medication that doesn’t forbid you from handling heavy machinery (driving), make sure you take it before you leave the house and as crazy as it may sound, that prescription bottle with your name on it, may do more harm than good…