In Utah, a citizen can be charged with DUI without being impaired and without being over a .08 blood/breath alcohol level. It’s called driving with any measurable amount of a controlled substance in the body. In fact, the controlled substance does not even have to be found in your body, it can be a metabolite of the controlled substance. A metabolite is defined many ways but basically means the “end product, or by-product of another compound.” A metabolite can hang around in your system for days or even weeks after consumption. It is the remnant of a drug and the affects are not necessarily impairing. It just says you consumed drugs at some time, not that you are on drugs right now. For more information on drug abuse visit http://drugabuse.net.
Prescriptions: Here’s the problem. Many people get a headache and ask someone for a pill to help it out. Your friend gives you something stronger than your ibuprofen. The friend offers you something that she got with her last prescription. You can now be charged with DUI because you have a controlled substance in your body and you don’t have a prescription for it. It is a defense that the controlled substance was: (a) involuntarily ingested by the accused; (b) prescribed by a practitioner for use by the accused; or (c) otherwise legally ingested. See Utah Code Ann. 41-6a-517. Therefore, if you do not have a prescription for whatever is in your body, you can be charged with a DUI. Do not misunderstand me. Even though you have a legal prescription, you still can be charged with DUI if the effects of the prescription are impairing you to the degree that you cannot drive safely.
Illegal Drugs: Another problem is that my clients come in and say “I haven’t smoked pot for weeks, how can they charge me with DUI. I wasn’t impaired in any way.” This is where the metabolite comes in. If the remnants of the drug stay in your body and the police find it through a blood or urine test, you can be charged with DUI.
Legal Over-the-Counter Drugs: Many people think that because they took a legal over-the-counter drug, they will not be charged with DUI. Many clients tell the officer that they just took some cough syrup as an excuse for their drowsy driving. Understand, if there is any drug, legal or non-legal, that is impairing you, you can be charged with DUI. I have defended my share of NyQuil and Robitussin DUIs.