Impairment a side effect of prescription drugs and basis for DUI

Being sick certainly isn’t fun, and as soon as we start feeling that tickle in the back of our throat, sinus congestion, nausea or any other symptom we’ll seek a remedy. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can certainly provide relief, but these are still powerful substances that have side effects that could impair our ability to drive.

This past weekend, officers with the Martinsburg Police Department responded to the report of a motor vehicle accident. Cpl. Marybeth J. Butcher arrived on the scene and found a vehicle tipped on its side. When she discussed the incident with the driver, Cp. Butcher noticed that his speech was slurred, his balance was a bit unsteady and his eyes had a little bit of that glassy appearance, prompting further investigation.

Cpl. Butcher asked the driver about his evening, and the driver noted that he was on his way home to Inwood from his job as a Berkeley County 911 emergency dispatcher. The only problem was that Cp. Butcher knew he was heading in the wrong direction and may have been confused. The totality of the circumstances prompted the officer to conduct three field sobriety tests, all of which she said he failed.

Even further investigation determined that the dispatcher had been sent home that evening. The driver said it was because he was sick, and his employer described it as the result of an inability to properly perform his job duties that evening.

Prescription Tramadol and Clonazepam tablets were found on his person. The report was unclear as to whether or not the prescriptions were written in his name. The dispatcher was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.

Alcohol isn’t the only substance that can cause a person to fail field sobriety tests that look for any type of impairment. These tests are an indication of the possibility of impairment, not absolute proof of impairment, and it would be prudent to seek the counsel of a defense attorney.

Source: Herald-Mail Media, “Berkeley Co. dispatcher charged with DUI after crash,” Matthew Umstead, May 6, 2014

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