Xanax is the most widely prescribed benzodiazepine drug in the United States as well as many other countries. In 2005, there were about 8 million Xanax prescriptions issued in the US. By the next year, the number of prescriptions had jumped to 35 million. The Xanax prescriptions are still on a rise, particularly as the medicine gains popularity for recreational use amongst groups like college students. Even if you ignore all of the recreational Xanax users, there are still a lot of people taking Xanax for their anxiety disorders, like panic attacks. Since a panic attack can strike at anytime and anywhere, there are undoubtedly a lot of patients who take Xanax while driving.
Many patients don’t realize that they can be held criminally responsible for driving while using Xanax. That’s right: the term driving under the influence (DUI) is not just limited to alcohol. Law enforcement officers are making increasingly more arrests for people driving while under the influence of prescription drugs like Xanax – even when they are being used responsibly.
How will the police know if you have been using Xanax?
Of course, there is the issue of whether a law enforcement officer will know if you have taken a Xanax or not. But, let’s say that you have been pulled over because it appears like you are driving and acting drunk. The officer puts you in the back of the squad car while searching your car and finds the Xanax pill bottle in the glove compartment and you get charged with a DUI.
The government has also come up with a new testing system called DEC, or Drug Evaluation and Classification. If you are suspected of a DUI but alcohol does not appear on a sobriety test, then a DEC offer will be called in. The DEC officer asks a series of questions requests certain motor-function tests to ascertain whether or not you have used a drug. You should know your rights! You are NOT required to answer any of the questions or perform any of the tests! If a DEC officer gets called in on you, the best thing to do is request a lawyer and say nothing more.
Depending on the situation, you may be required to submit to a blood test. If this happens, then there is no denying that you have taken Xanax. However, a good lawyer will be able to defend you and claim that the Xanax did not impair your driving.
Avoid the Situation before you are Held Liable
It is very difficult for law enforcement agencies to get accurate numbers on just how many people are driving under the influence of Xanax and other prescription drugs because these drugs are not detectable in routine tests like breathalyzers. Just because you can probably escape prosecution from a Xanax DUI, that doesn’t mean you should be taking any risks. Aside from the very real risk of killing yourself or someone else in an accident, defending yourself from a Xanax DUI can cost a lot of money. Even if you aren’t held criminally liable, you can still be held liable in a civil suit for any damages from the Xanax DUI.