By: South Sound Law Group

What Is a Drugged DUI?


Put simply, a drugged DUI (driving while under the influence) is a DUI that involves drugs in some form as opposed to the alcohol-only DUI. A drugged DUI can be one drug only, or it can be a combination of drugs and alcohol, or a combination of different medications. 

How Is a Drugged DUI Proven?

There are several ways in which the government can attempt to prove that someone drove a motor vehicle while impaired. In a true drugged DUI, there won’t be any evidence of alcohol consumption, so usually no breath test.

That said, it’s more common for officers to take the position that they believe the person is under the influence of combined factors, like drugs and alcohol. Then the officer will have a breath test administered to determine if there was alcohol consumption. At that point, the officer may get a warrant to draw a sample of your blood to be tested.

But the police officers themselves, as well as any witnesses available, can testify in court to the probable use of alcohol or drugs as shown by:

  • Physical appearance
  • Coordination and balance
  • Speech problems
  • Red, bloodshot. watery eyes
  • Pupils dilated or constricted and how they reacted to light
  • Whether they could understand instructions or perform specified tasks
  • How the vehicle was driven (swerving across center lines, etc.) 

Can Prescription Drugs Cause a Positive DUI?

Yes. Prescribed medications can cause a positive DUI, even if taken in the dosage prescribed by a physician. The law holds that if someone takes a prescribed drug that causes them to reach the legal threshold for being under the influence, they can be charged with a DUI. The driver is considered responsible for understanding the potential side effects of medications and acting responsibly. Even if someone is only taking the prescribed amount, not additional amounts, they can still be arrested and charged with a DUI.

What Are the Consequences of a Drug DUI Conviction?

A drugged DUI conviction has the same mandatory minimum penalties as a standard alcohol DUI. For a first offense, there could be a minimum jail time of 1-2 days, $990.50-1,245.50 in fines plus additional costs and assessments, and numerous probation conditions for up to 5 years. Even if the DUI had no evidence of alcohol consumption, there could still be a mandatory ignition interlock requirement for any vehicle to be used going forward. (Yes, it’s true that interlock devices can’t detect marijuana or drug use, only alcohol, but it’s still often required for a drugged DUI.) 

Let Us Advise You

DUI charges, especially drugged DUIs, can be complex. Call us at 253-383-3328 to find local law professionals specializing in Tacoma DUI cases who can help you through the process.