If you've been watching the news at all, you have probably heard about the recent arrest of pro golfer Tiger Woods. The golfing legend was found sleeping in a parked car in Florida -- unable to pass the roadside sobriety tests, he was arrested for driving under the influence.
As it turns out, he had pulled the car over to sleep because the muscle relaxant he'd been prescribed combined with the Vicodin he was taking for pain had made him confused and tired. He blew a perfect zero on two breathalyzer tests -- indicating there was no alcohol in his system at all.
Does the fact that he pulled the car over and parked help his case?
At this point, you can be forgiven if you're thinking that the charges would be dismissed and the golf pro would be sent on his way. After all, he did what any sensible person would do if they felt unable to drive -- he stopped and put the car in park.
Unfortunately for him, he picked a bad place to do it. His car showed signs of recent damage to the bumpers and tail lights and two of the tires were flat. He chose to park his vehicle in the right-hand lane of a road, with his right blinker on -- perhaps because he couldn't recall how to operate the hazard lights.
Under the law, the fact that he wasn't in motion when the police found him means absolutely nothing as far as the charges against him go. Under Florida's law, it's illegal to be in actual physical control of a vehicle while in an impaired state. In addition, since his car was found parked on a roadway, there's a logical inference that he drove it from wherever he started to that spot on the road.
Does the fact that the drugs were legally prescribed make a difference?
While it's probably good that he hadn't added alcohol to the concoction in his system, it was clear to the responding officers that the golfer was impaired on something. While he identified a couple of medications, toxicology reports will have to confirm his story. If he's telling the truth, the drugs were all legally prescribed and he had every right to take them.
He didn't have the legal right, however, to get behind the wheel of a car until he knew how those drugs affected him. Painkillers, muscle relaxants, psychiatric medications, and other drugs all affect people differently -- there's no law that covers each drug specifically. Instead, you can generally expect the law to operate on a case-by-case basis.
For example, your best friend might take anti-anxiety meds, like Xanax, all the time. He or she may find it calming but it doesn't affect his or her reaction times or ability to drive. You, on the other hand, may find yourself slurring your words and falling down after a mere half tablet of the same drug. If you were each stopped for a traffic stop, your friend wouldn't likely be arrested -- but you would.
Under the law, it doesn't matter if you are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal substances. The end result is the same.
Cases like this recent issue faced by Tiger Woods help drive home important things that drivers tend to forget -- DUI charges are possible even if the car isn't moving and it doesn't matter what substance causes your impairment because any can produce a charge. For more information on DUI or advice, talk to an attorney such as Angela L Walker PC today.