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Dalton Law Office, PLLC
Vancouver, WA DUI Defense

Defending Against Drug Related DUIs

In Washington, drug related DUI charges can be a scary, slippery slope.  Prosecutors can charge a person with a drug related DUI based on alleged consumption of almost any drug.


To effectively defend a drug related DUI charge, you need a lawyer with the technical knowledge to hold the state’s feet to the fire.  Call us now at 360-213-0013.

Drug related DUIs can be even scarier than alcohol related DUIs.  For most types of drugs, Washington recognizes no legal limit.  Unfortunately, the DUI statute is also vague enough to include almost ANY kind of drug as a drug that can give rise to a DUI charge – regardless of whether the drug is a prescription or over the counter or whether or not it is taken according to a doctor’s instructions.  Many people in Washington are now being arrested for driving under the influence of prescription drugs like Ambien, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and even drugs like Wellbutrin and Zoloft, or drugs like marijuana, sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs and sometimes alone.  One little pill can give rise to a real life nightmare.


When law enforcement obtains a warrant for a blood sample, the state often attempts to use the presence of drug metabolites as proof of driving under the influence.  This means that a person may have taken a medication or drug DAYS before an alleged incident and the prosecution might still try to use evidence of metabolites as proof that the person was under the influence.  Some drugs or substances may also cause blood tests to show false positives


Although drug related DUI prosecutions have been around for a long time, recently, law enforcement has shown an increasing tendency to arrest drivers for non-specified and non-traditional kinds of drug intoxication. Prosecutors often rely on law enforcement’s “Drug Recognition Experts” (DREs) to testify about their conclusions regarding drivers that they believe are under the influence.  Washington courts, however, have put real parameters and limitations on the ability of these law enforcement officials to give conclusive testimony against drivers.  To effectively defend against these kinds of charges, Ms. Dalton uses skilled experts in conjunction with the defense and constantly works to continue developing an in-depth knowledge of the scientific or quasi-scientific procedures used by police agencies in charging drug DUIs.


DUIs related to use of Ambien or Zolpidem have become an increasingly common problem for drivers around the country.  The drug is often associated with the phenomenon of sleep driving.  A person will take the drug as a sleep aid and then with no consciousness of doing so, will find themselves behind the wheel with police at their window or in a ditch in the car in their pajamas.  The special nature of the drug makes it unfair to apply traditional legal approaches to DUI of holding drivers strictly accountable.  Sometimes officers are charging drivers for driving with prescribed drugs like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Oxycodone, Wellbutrin, Halcion, Lithium, and others, alone or in combination with alcohol.  There is no “legal limit” for these sorts of drugs and the level of intoxication alleged by the state can become a frightening guessing game with serious consequences.

Ms. Dalton has used cutting edge legal motions and an aggressive trial strategy to obtain superior results in these sorts of cases.


These cases present special challenges and not all attorneys are equipped to handle the atypical scientific and legal issues related to legal and illegal drugs.  Although Washington law is very specific as to the amount of alcohol that would definitively constitute intoxication (the “legal limit” of .08), Washington law is much less specific when it comes to drugs.  In fact, Washington is one of very few states whose drug DUI laws do not define specific drugs that will form a basis for a DUI charge, nor does the law specify what level of prescription or non-prescription drugs in a person’s system would be considered a level sufficient to constitute intoxication.  This is typically left up to the Washington State Patrol’s toxicology lab scientists who may rely on biased studies to form their conclusions.


The new marijuana laws and recent changes in requirements for obtaining blood tests leave some new and untested areas in drug-related DUI laws.  We scrutinize legal requirements and look for productive ways to call into question the practices and procedures used to accuse drivers.  When new laws and procedures are used, Ms. Dalton works hard to make sure that they are not used against drivers in violation of their constitutional or other rights.  Nicole Dalton is an experienced and aggressive drug DUI lawyer and gets results.


Ms. Dalton is not afraid to aggressively defend your case against unfair prosecutions and drug related DUIs. Whether the ultimate goal is a good plea bargain or taking the case to trial and beating the charges, Ms. Dalton uses cutting edge, aggressive litigation to obtain the best possible results for her clients. Whether focusing on constitutional rights, some procedural failure of the system, or scrutinizing and attacking the credibility of the state’s scientific evidence and experts.  Ms. Dalton makes it her business to cultivate an in-depth understanding of the law, as well as the science used to prosecute people, and takes a detailed, aggressive, no holds barred approach to defending against serious drug-related driving offenses.


Call us now, we are here to help.


If you have been accused of a drug related driving offense, get a tough, experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.  Call Nicole T. Dalton at 360-213-0013.  We are here to fight for your future and your well-being. If you need urgent legal advice after hours, call or text Ms. Dalton at 503-nine-57-9018.


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Aggressive criminal defense services available in Southwest Washington areas including Clark County, Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Battleground, Ridgefield, Stevenson, Kelso, Longview, Cowlitz County, Skamania County, Wahkiakum County and other areas..