People take prescription drugs for a variety of different medical conditions. According to the Washington Post, a 2015 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, "found that the prevalence of prescription drug use among people 20 and older had risen to 59 percent in 2012." This was an increase from years past. In 2000, the percentage of those taking prescription medication was 51%. Every medication may have some side effects. Certain side effects can make it unsafe for an individual to be behind the wheel, such as drowsiness. If a driver is impaired, even on a legally prescribed drug, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence. However, the driver must, in fact, be impaired in order to be charged with this offense. You can contact your DeKalb County DUI Lawyer for more information. The law in Georgia provides,
The fact that any person charged with violating this Code section is or has been legally entitled to use a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this Code section; provided, however, that such person shall not be in violation of this Code section unless such person is rendered incapable of driving safely as a result of using a drug other than alcohol which such person is legally entitled to use. O.G.C.A. § 40-6-391 (b).
One police officer in Statham, Georgia has been accused by a number of people of falsely arresting them for this type of DUI when they were not actually impaired. These individuals claim that Officer Marc Lofton had arrested them for driving under the influence when they had "no alcohol or drugs that weren't prescribed to them in their systems." The Athens Banner-Herald reported that these citizens spoke up about this issue at a recent Statham City Council meeting, requesting that Officer Lofton be fired. In addition, an online petition seeking his dismissal has almost 400 signatures.
One of the individuals who was arrested by Officer Lofton and is speaking out against him is Mary Williams. According to the Athens Banner-Herald, Williams stated, while on her way home from work, "she was wrongfully arrested by Lofton and charged with DUI after Lofton said she failed a roadside sobriety test in October 2015." However, "Williams maintains she had no alcohol or illegal drugs in her system that would affect her driving." She stated that just twenty minutes prior to her arrest she had been "driving a United States Postal Service vehicle." She also stated that during her work day: "I did not run into a ditch. I did not hit another car. I did not hit a mailbox. I didn't even hit a squirrel. And, I never so much as delivered the wrong mail to the wrong mailbox that day." The drug that Lofton believed was impaired her ability to drive was her prescribed antidepressant medication that Williams had taken at 5 in the morning that day. Williams is planning to "fight the arrest in court and prove she was not impaired."
Other citizens also spoke up as well and the mayor of the city plans to investigate these claims.
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, please do not hesitate to contact DeKalb County DUI Attorney Richard Lawson.