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How can legal substances lead to a DUI charge in Washington?

On Behalf of | May 13, 2020 | Firm News |

Motorists could find themselves charged with driving under the influence after taking over-the-counter or prescription medicines. You may also face a DUI charge from using legalized cannabis products designed for medicinal purposes. 

Legal and doctor-prescribed medicines may cause drowsiness or blurred vision. These symptoms generally impair an otherwise healthy individual’s ability to remain fully alert. If you are driving, a law enforcement official has the authority to pull you over for a minor traffic violation, such as swerving. 

When can an officer perform a field sobriety test? 

When a legalized substance leaves you with bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or mental confusion, an officer may suspect impairment. If he or she has reasonable cause to believe you drank or ingested something that weakened your ability to drive, a field sobriety test may confirm a suspicion. 

Based on how cognizant you appear, an officer may ask you some general questions to determine impairment. He or she may also ask you to stand on one leg or perform a walk-and-turn test to prove your ability to balance yourself. 

If you fail a series of roadside tests, an officer may request you to submit to a breath or blood test. Without first observing reasonable signs of impairment, however, an officer may not have the authority to request any chemical-analysis tests. 

What happens if I refuse an officer’s request to submit to a test? 

A refusal to take a field sobriety test may result in an arrest and conviction for a DUI, as reported by KING-TV. Law enforcement may use your refusal as evidence of impairment and charge you with driving under the influence. If convicted, penalties may include jail time of up to a year, a fine and a driver’s license suspension.