Penalties For DUI With Prescription Drugs In NJ

While most people think New Jersey driving while intoxicated (DWI) stops and arrests involve alcohol and commonly known controlled dangerous substances (CDS) like heroin and cocaine, it would surprise many to realize that prescription drugs carry the same penalties and are the rising trend in DWI cases. If a police officer stops you for DUI while under the influence of prescription drugs, you face a 7 month loss of license for a first offense as well as other fines and penalties similar to a .10 alcohol DWI. Simply because the drug is available via prescription doesn't mean that the rules to their use and driving with them in your system don't apply. if you think about it logically, alcohol is legal but having too much can get you tagged for a DWI.  The problem with prescription drugs is that there is no simple test so show you are not impaired. To the contrary, the police will use their investigative skills and Standard Field Sobriety Tests to make the case that you are under the influence. They may also use a trained police office DRE to prove their case.  DUI with prescription drugs is still DUI.

Charging A Driver With Prescription Drugs DUI

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Under New Jersey DWI laws, prescription drugs are included in the legal definition of narcotics. If an individual is charged with DUI having used prescription drugs, it must be proven by the prosecutor beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs were in the driver's system at the time of the traffic stop and arrest and that the individual's driving conduct was influenced by the medication. In cases of prescription drug DUI, the presence of the drugs in the individual's system is identified through a blood or urine test.

It must be proven in court that the driver's impairment was such that he or she was a danger to him or herself and others on the road. If the law enforcement officer suspects the driver of DUI with prescription drugs and finds the drugs in the vehicle, the officer can request that the driver present a valid prescription for the drugs. If the driver cannot provide the prescription, there may be additional penalties, such as prescription drug possession. A DUI stop for prescription drugs will include the standard field sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line and the one leg stand test.

Sentencing For Prescription Drug DUI

The typical prescription medications that a police officer will look for are things like Xanax, allergy medications, sleeping pills like Valium, cough syrups, and painkillers such as Vicodin. The sentences for a DUI with prescription drugs vary. If it is the first offense, there can be a jail sentence of 30 days, a suspension of the individual's driver's license for seven months to a year, 12 to 48 hours at the intoxicated driver resource center (IDRC), fines of $300 to $500, plus surcharges of at least $3,000.

If there is a second offense within ten years of the first offense, the driver is subject to a jail sentence between two days and three months, a suspension of the driver's license for two years, 12 to 48 hours at the IDRC, fines between $500 and $1,000 and surcharges of at least $3,000.

For a third offense within ten years of the first two, there can be a six month jail sentence, a license suspension for ten years, 12 to 48 hours at the IDRC, a $1,000 fine and surcharges of at least $4,500.


If you have been charged with DUI due to prescription drug use in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey, you have rights and it's important to have qualified legal representation to defend them in court. Contact the experienced DWI lawyers at Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Call 732-965-3999 today for your FREE consultation!

Act Now Before It's Too Late!

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Mistakes happen all the time. If a mistake was made by the police or the New Jersey prosecution it should not hurt you and your family. Our experienced NJ DWI Defense Lawyers at Villani & DeLuca regularly protect the legal rights of people who have been charged with DWI / DUI or breath test refusal. This traffic offense carries the possible of jail time and costly fines in New Jersey. The stakes are too high and can last for years. A strong legal defense can often convince the courts to have your drunk driving charges dismissed or reduced. Don't risk your future by defending yourself against a DUI! Contact Villani & Deluca today for a FREE case evaluation on all your pending drunk driving charges.

This website is designed for information purposes only and should not be construed as formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.

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