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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23600
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was involved in a car accident. I told the officers that I

Customer Question

I was involved in a car accident. I told the officers that I had recently had a stroke and had taken a tramadol medication earlier in the morning.. They ordered me to do a field sobriety test. I passed the breathilizer twice but because I was acting slow and had poor balance they arrested me and took me to station for a blood test. I let them do the blood draw. The blood draw showed the tramadol but did not show exsessive amounts. I had a perscription from my stroke doctor. I was charged with DUI. I do have an attorney but just wanted to find for myself if law enforcement violated my civil rights as a citizen (post stroke)by not taking my limitations into account.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 month ago.

Hi,

I'm Zoey and I'll be assisting you. I'm reviewing your question now. Please be patient while I compose a reply for you.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 month ago.

Unfortunately, the police were within their rights to require a blood test. Every state has an implied consent statute which says you are deemed to have consented to a test if the police require it of you. To have refused would have been to cost you your license.

From there, if there is an intoxicant in your system, whether it is prescribed or not, the officer can charge you with a DUI. Drugs are not like alcohol when it comes to a DUI charge. That is, with alcohol, they can look at the levels and see if you are drunk. They do not use levels with drugs because the levels aren't meaningful in the same way. Any presence of an intoxicating drug would be sufficient to get you charged with a DUI.

That said, a valid prescription for the medication, along with a statement from your doctor that when taken as prescribed you would be able to drive safely, can frequently get a charge like this dismissed.

You have to keep in mind, however, that there is a big difference between what the state needs to arrest you and what they need to convict you. To arrest you, they only need probable cause -- a reasonable belief that your driving was impaired by your medication. Your slowness and poor balance plus the positive test would give the officer probable cause for the arrest.

In court, you/your lawyer would be able to present medical proof that it was your medical condition and not the effects of the tramadol that caused what looked like, but weren't, signs of intoxication. But the police don't have to take your word for that at the scene of an incident. They're entitled to arrest you if it looks reasonable to them that you may be intoxicated.

If you wish to go to trial on this case, you'd be able to challenge this at a pre-trial hearing, but hopefully, with proof from your doctor and a valid prescription, it can be dismissed before it ever has to come to that.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I live in Idaho and my attorney argued in a motion to suppress the blood draw that my implied consent obligation was satisfied once I took two breath tests showing 0 alcohol in my system. That the blood draw was no longer under the implied consent rule. Opinion of the judge was that I didn't specifically withdraw consent when they told me they were going to draw blood. Now how an average citizen would know they have a right to refuse a second evidentiary test seems unreasonable. The only reason they did a blood draw was because of my lack of balance and not responding quickly enough to their questions. Nothin at the scene showed that I was impaired. I could have understood if I hadn't just told them I had a stroke
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 month ago.

All of us are deemed to know all of the law of the land, even though that is, of course, not true.

Your lack of balance and your slow responsiveness could give the police probable cause to believe you were impaired by drugs once you showed no alcohol in your system. You yourself said you could understand that, if you hadn't told them about your stroke.

I'm sure you're an honest person, and I understand why you're angry and feel insulted. But police hear people all day every day who tell them they are not guilty of criminal offenses. Such statements are self-serving, even if they turn out to be true. So police can use their discretion and don't have to take you at your word when you're manifesting signs that could reasonably also be attributed to intoxication.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 1 month ago.

Just checking in to see if you need more help or any clarification of my answer. If so, please reply here on this question thread.