Drugged driving is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug, such as a prescription medication. The crime is also known as “DUI of drugs.” This means driving under the influence of drugs (DUID).
A person can be convicted of drugged driving in Nevada if two elements are proven. The first element is met when a person is found in a motor vehicle in the driver’s seat. This is what is meant by being in physical control of a motor vehicle. The motor vehicle does not have to be in motion; it might be parked with the motor running or not. The person only has to be present inside the vehicle for this law.
The second element is met when the person is suspected of ingesting a drug that has impaired their driving.
There are two kinds of DUI of Drugs in Nevada. The first is driving after ingesting, inhaling, or injecting any of the following:
- A chemical, poison or organic solvent, or
- Any compound or combination of a chemical, poison, or organic solvent.
The chemical, poison, or organic solvent must impair the person’s ability to drive safely or exercise actual physical control of a vehicle. This kind of DUI of Drugs requires that a person’s driving ability be impaired. The prosecution would have to prove this to win a conviction.
The second kind of DUI of Drugs in Nevada is driving with a prohibited amount of a prohibited substance observable in a person’s blood or urine. The prohibited amounts and prohibited substances are as follows:
- Amphetamine: 50 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 100 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Cocaine: 150 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 50 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Cocaine metabolite: 15 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 50 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Heroin: 2,000 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 50 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Heroin metabolite: any quantity;
- Morphine: 2,000 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 50 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
6-monoacetyl morphine: 10 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 10 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (The street name is “LSD.”): 25 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 10 nanograms per milliliter in the blood;
- Marijuana but only for third or successive DUIs in a seven-year period: There is no urine test, only a blood test. Measure for nanograms per milliliter in the blood is 2;
- Marijuana metabolite but only for third- or successive DUIs in a seven-year period: There is no urine test, only a blood test. Measure for nanograms per milliliter in the blood is 5;
- Methamphetamine (Street name is “Meth.”);
- Phencyclidine: 25 nanograms per milliliter in the urine or 10 nanograms per milliliter in the blood.
The main point here is that it is criminal per se to operate a motor vehicle with the minimum prohibited amount of these drugs in the urine or blood. Even if the person is driving in a perfectly safe manner, the act of driving with the prohibited quantity in the urine or blood is illegal.
Do I Have to Take a Blood Test If I Am Stopped?
A person suspected of DUID in Nevada must give a blood sample to law enforcement after arrest. A person suspected of DUID cannot choose to take a breath test instead because breathalyzers measure only BAC (blood alcohol concentration), not drug content.
All people who drive in Nevada have implied consent to submit to a blood or urine test if they are ever pulled over on suspicion of DUID. If a driver should refuse to take a blood test for testing for the presence of drugs, law enforcement may take their driver’s license and use reasonable force, e.g., restrain the person, so that the test can be administered. The fact that a person refused to take the chemical test can also be used as evidence against them at a trial.
When motorists are initially pulled over on suspicion of DUID, the officer may order them to perform field sobriety tests and to take a preliminary breath test. If the person fails the field sobriety tests but passes the breath test, as they would because they are not under the influence of alcohol, the police assume that the driver may be under the influence of other substances and not alcohol.
The police may call for officers with specialized training in recognizing drugged driving to respond to the scene and take over the investigation. They would then determine whether there is probable cause to arrest the person.
Why Was I Charged with DUID in Nevada If I Took Over-the-Counter Medication?
Nevada law defines DUI of drugs as operating a motor vehicle after ingesting, inhaling, or injecting any chemical or compound of chemicals in such an amount that it impairs the person’s ability to drive safely or exercise control of a vehicle.
An over-the-counter medication contains chemicals or compounds of chemicals. If a person takes an over-the-counter medication that noticeably impairs their driving ability, they can be guilty of DUI. The fact that a person can legally obtain the drug, i.e., by buying it at a pharmacy or grocery store, does not matter.
Which Over-the-Counter Medications Can Impair My Driving?
Certain over-the-counter medications can impair a person’s ability to drive. It is important to remember that every person is different, and over-the-counter medication can affect one person very differently than another. A person must think about this before taking medication and operating a motor vehicle. It is better to take a new medication and not plan to drive until an hour or two has passed, and the person knows how their body has reacted to the medication.
Another thing to remember is that the effects that can impair driving are not just alcohol content or an ingredient that induces sleep. A drug such as Claritin D, an antihistamine, contains pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in methamphetamine. It might keep a person from sleeping, impairing their driving, making them nervous and likely to react too quickly or become inattentive.
Some over-the-counter and prescription medications that can affect a person’s driving ability include the following:
- Decongestants: Common side effects include drowsiness, anxiety, and dizziness;
- Antihistamines: Commonly cause a slow reaction time, impaired coordination, and lack of concentration;
- Cold and allergy medicines: Such brand name over-the-counter medications as Afrin, Sudafed, Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Dimetapp, and the like can affect a person’s driving ability;
- Prescription sleeping pills: Lunesta and Ambien are two prescription medications that can induce sleep;
- Motion sickness drugs: Dramamine, Bonine, Gravol;
- Antihistamine drugs: Claritin D, Zyrtec, and Allegra;
- Anti-diarrheal drugs: Loperamide, Imodium, and others;
- Stimulants, diet aides, and caffeine pills;
- Cannabidiol (CDB) products: Epidiolex, for example, and many others;
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that the body makes naturally. It is also sold in pill form as a sleep aid. Because it can cause drowsiness, a person is advised not to drive or use machinery within five hours of taking it.
What Is the Punishment for a Drugged DUI in Nevada?
A person’s first conviction for DUID is charged as a misdemeanor. The punishment for this crime is:
- A person must serve a minimum of 2 days up to a maximum of 6 months in jail or 24 hours to 96 hours of community service. Reportedly, courts typically order a suspended jail sentence of 6 months;
- Attendance at DUI School, an alcohol awareness program for which the student must pay;
$400 to $1,000 in fines plus court costs;
- Appearance before a Victim Impact Panel;
- Driver’s license suspension for 185 days, although driving right away with an ignition interlock device may be possible.
A person convicted of UDID can usually avoid jail if they pay the fine, attend DUI school, and appear before a victim impact panel. They can usually avoid suspension of their driver’s license if they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.
Are the Penalties Harsher for a Second DUID Conviction?
Penalties for a second DUID conviction within 7 years of the first are harsher, although the crime is still a misdemeanor. A person must spend a minimum of 10 days in jail. Specifically, the penalties for a second DUID committed within 7 years of the first are as follows:
- 10 days to 6 months in jail or home confinement;
- $750 to $1,000 in fines or an equivalent number of hours of community service;
- Appearance before a Victim Impact Panel;
- An alcohol/drug dependency evaluation, which costs $100;
- A 1- year suspension of a person’s driver’s license suspension or revocation.
It may be possible to appear before a Misdemeanor DUI Court instead of going to jail.
Do I Need the Help of an Attorney for My Over-the-Counter Drugged Driving Case?
Legal representation is important if you want to avoid the harshest possible sentence for a drugged DUI offense. If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs when you were under the influence of an over-the-counter medication, you need to consult a Nevada DUI/DWI defense attorney immediately about how best to defend against the charges.