Impact of Combining Drugs and Alcohol in a DC DUID Case

In Washington, DC you can be charged for driving under the influence for having both drugs and alcohol in your system. Below, DC DUI drug attorney Shawn Sukumar discusses the mixture of alcohol and drugs and how it can complicate your case. To learn more call today and schedule a free consultation.

Mixing Drugs And Alcohol

The mixing of prescription drugs and alcohol can make a situation complicated. Even though each individual drug separately may not have had a significant impact on a person’s ability to drive their car, the combination of the two can have a very serious impact. As an example a situation that I see commonly is the combination of small amounts of alcohol and sleeping medication such as Ambien. Even though perhaps taking an Ambien alone may not impair a person to the point where they’re unable to drive and maybe having a single glass of wine alone may not impair a person’s ability where they’re not able to drive. The combination of one glass of wine plus one Ambien can exponentially increase the effects of both so that a person may be severely impaired and show signs of severe impairment even though the actual substances the person may test positive for would not have had a significant intoxicating effect by themselves.

Penalties for Combined Alcohol and Drug DUI Convictions

The combination of alcohol plus drugs doesn’t necessarily make the penalties more serious. The penalties get more serious when you’re facing mandatory jail time for the presence of a schedule 1 drug, such as PCP, cocaine or heroin. The problem with the mixtures of alcohol and drugs is that a person may have inadvertently consumed a small amount of alcohol not realizing it or not remembering that they had just recently taken a medication that could have an interaction problem with the alcohol.

That can result in them facing higher levels of impairment without recognizing that at the time that they consumed the alcohol that they’re going to feel those effects. What that means is that a person may consume a single glass of wine after taking some kind of medication that may have an alcohol interaction warning, begin driving, and at some point during the drive suddenly begin to feel impaired unexpectedly. Unfortunately, although that may not be a defense to the charges of driving under the influence, it can nonetheless be used possibly as a mitigating circumstance by defense attorneys to be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on the grounds that a person was not impaired at the time that they got into the car but the impairment developed as the person was driving suddenly and unexpectedly.

Are There Any Situations Where Mixing Drugs and Alcohol May Not Be a Person’s Fault?

Our laws assume the average person is aware of the consequences of mixing prescription medication with alcohol. So, it is not a defense to say you did not know that mixing a prescription drug with a small amount of alcohol would result in an increased amount of impairment.

However, it is a simple fact that many people might not be aware of exactly how impaired they might become when accidentally mixing a prescription drug with a small amount of alcohol. That person might not pose the same danger to the community compared to a person who simply consumed a significant amount of alcohol.

This defense approach can be helpful in conducting negotiations with the prosecutor in order to try to get a more favorable resolution than someone with only a high blood alcohol concentration or whose urine shows the presence of certain serious drugs.

How a DUI Drug Attorney Can Help

A person is considered to be impaired at the point where they’re driving, and not at the initial point where they got into the car. So even in the event that a person is not impaired when they begin driving but does develop an impairment later on that could be prosecuted the same way as if the person had been impaired from the very beginning. On the other hand, a defense attorney should argue to prosecutors that a person’s culpability is not as high because the person wasn’t aware of their impairment at the time that they got into the car. Even though prosecutors may proceed on the argument that a person should know that the combination of a drug and alcohol will affect their ability to drive, a defense attorney can use the circumstances to press for decreased penalties and a more favorable outcome.