WTVM Legal Break – DUI and Prescription Drugs

Injury & Accident Attorney Serving Nearby Areas of Columbus & Fort Benning, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama

Gary Bruce discusses driving under the influence (DUI) charges and explains how a person can be cited for DUI. DUI is a general description and is commonly associated with drunk driving, but DUI can also apply to other substances including illegal and prescription drugs.

Even if you have a prescription for the medicine, you can still be cited for DUI. There is not only criminal liability, but there can also be civil penalties if someone is injured in a wreck for which the driver was cited a DUI. Unlike most other wrecks, a DUI driver who causes a wreck is subject to punitive damages. Typically, damages awarded in a car wreck case are to compensate the plaintiff, but punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and to deter similar future conduct.

Gary also discusses how a doctor or pharmacy can be held responsible for a driver cited for DUI in a case involving prescription drugs. While it is unlikely that the doctor could be held responsible, a pharmacy may be held liable if the pharmacist failed to warn the driver of the possible effects of the prescribed drug. Liability in these cases, as in many other cases, comes down to if you knew or should have known of a problem and if you knew, whether you should have taken action to prevent the outcome. If you have been involved in a wreck involving DUI, please call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce at 706-596-1446 or email lawyer@garybrucelaw.net to set up a meeting and free consultation.


Narrator: Now answering your questions about the law and legal issues this is legal break with attorney Gary Bruce!

Maureen: Hello there, Maureen Akers with Gary Bruce today Gary thank you so much for joining us again!

Gary: Good to be here again.

Maureen: As always! We are talking today about prescription drug use and driving under the influence. What happens if you are taking a prescribed medicine and you get into an accident?

Gary: All right well if you’re even if you’re just pulled over its impaired driving. Driving under the influence is the charge, not specific to alcohol, so people need to be careful about that. I guess the real question becomes “was it willful, were you aware that you were about to be impaired to the point where you weren’t safe to be on the road?” If you were then there’s not only possible criminal liability but there’s potentially quasi criminal liability in a lawsuit case with punitive damages. You can’t prove they just drove around on drugs all the time and we can’t blow in a meter for it. So anyway, there there’s potential for punitive damages even in a civil case.

Maureen: So the charge would be a DUI then, right?

Gary: I think so. I mean that’s an officer, it’s hard I think it’s hard for them to sometimes spot it or know it. I see it on reports a lot that there’s something going on, so you have to do blood work sometimes in that situation. But you know it’s the same thing if you’re distracted if you’re reading your book on your phone or something. It really isn’t much different this is ridiculous so be careful watch out who’s around you and who’s in front of you and you won’t be exposed to these problems.

Maureen: Let’s talk about the other side of this. Could the prescribing physician or the pharmacy be held responsible in a case like this?

Gary: I would doubt it that a medical prescriber would have liability, I can’t forsee that issue. Maybe the pharmacy if they don’t warn you about the impact of the drug. I would think that you’d want to take a drug and know how it’s going to affect you before you go on behind the wheel of a car. Where we’ve seen it, and I think this is an interesting question, and I’m not sure the answer. So you go to work, you’re not functioning right, you’re taking a new drug, and your employer says, “you are not right, you need to go home.” They put you on the road knowing that you were impaired, it is their responsibility for your employer, or someone who should have known of the problem, and then they just expose all of us do it because they didn’t take you off the road. Yeah, I don’t know, I think there’s a question there. So, I would be careful really. It all boils down to as always, Maureen, do you know, or should have known of a problem you could have prevented? If so, don’t do it.

Maureen: Yeah, yeah, be responsible. Thank you so much for joining us today, Gary. We look forward to seeing you on the very next Legal Break