By Rebecca Wade

It’s common knowledge that the legal blood alcohol limit for driving under the influence is .08 and above. But that’s not the case for drugs, as there are only legal limits for three drug substances other than alcohol: cocaine, PCP, and methamphetamines.

How does self-administration factor into a DUI charge for drugs?

Criminal defense attorney Rebecca Wade says a problem that often arises with “D-U-I-D” or “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs”, is that Virginia law requires the drugs to be self-administered for a conviction. For example, take someone who goes to the hospital and is given an IV containing oxycontin. They are discharged from the hospital, drive away, and are pulled over by a police officer for driving under the influence of drugs. In this case, the driver can’t be convicted of a D-U-I-D because they did not self-administer the oxycontin, rather the hospital did.

Alternatively, let’s say a doctor at the hospital writes a patient a prescription for oxycontin and they take the prescribed amount, get behind the wheel of a car, and are pulled over. In this situation, they can be convicted of a D-U-I-D because the drugs were self-administered. The fact that the individual took the pills pursuant to the doctor’s orders will not stand as a defense in court.

So what should you do if you are pulled over for a D-U-I-D?

  1. Don’t make any admissions to the police officer who pulls you over (this includes what medication you took, how much, and how frequently you take it). Any statements made could be used against the driver in court by the prosecution.
  2. Do not take any field sobriety tests. Again, doing so could be used against you to prove that you were under the influence of drugs when driving.
  3. Contact an attorney immediately if you are charged with a D-U-I-D. An experienced lawyer can present your side of the story to a judge in court to get you the best outcome possible.

About the Author

This is a photo of Rebecca Wade. She is a family law and criminal defense attorney at Old Town Lawyers.

Rebecca Janet Wade

Rebecca Wade is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law and criminal law having experience with protective orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, child protective services investigations, juvenile delinquency, and criminal charges.

Wade has been named a 2023 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, a 2023 Super Lawyer in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020-2021 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.

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