When most people think of driving under the influence (DUI), they associate it with alcohol consumption. However, in West Virginia, you can also be charged with a DUI for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications.
Let’s navigate the less-discussed road of DUI drug laws in the Mountain State.
Understanding drug-induced impairment
According to state law, it’s illegal for anyone to drive while under the influence of any controlled substance or drug that can impair a person’s ability to drive safely.
By that definition, illegal drugs, prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs that can induce intoxication, drowsiness, stimulation and other similar effects can trigger a DUI violation.
How can law enforcement officers check for the presence of drugs in a driver?
By law, anyone who drives in West Virginia automatically gives their consent to a preliminary breath analysis and a secondary chemical test to determine the presence of either alcohol or drugs in their system. This means that upon a driver’s arrest for DUI, an officer can order a chemical test if they have probable cause to believe the driver is under the intoxicating effects of a drug instead of alcohol.
The penalties for drug DUIs
Any person who drives a vehicle in a drug-induced impaired state commits a misdemeanor offense for a first-time DUI. This is punishable by up to six months of jail and $500 in fines. In addition, the Commissioner of the Division of Motor Vehicles will revoke the person’s driver’s license for six months.
To reinstate their license, a convicted person must participate in a DUI education and treatment program.
DUI drug laws in West Virginia carry serious consequences and can impact your life significantly. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone who takes prescription or over-the-counter medications and plans to drive. If you find yourself facing such charges, consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.