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How Using a Controlled Substance Complicates Your South Dakota DUI Case

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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You would never consider driving after drinking, so it was a shock when you were charged with DUI. You hadn’t had a drink all weekend, so you intended to fight the charge—but then the police officer told you that you would need to be tested for use of a controlled substance.

The Problem of Using Controlled Substances Behind the Wheel

Drug use, both legal and illegal, is a growing problem among U.S. drivers. A recent drugged driving study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 18 percent of drivers killed in car accidents in 2009 tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug. In South Dakota, any drug that can potentially affect a driver’s ability to control a vehicle can be used as the basis of a drugged driving charge, whether or not the driver is legally entitled to use the drug.

While different drugs affect people in a variety of ways, the government has classified many legal and illegal drugs that impair judgment, concentration, or motor skills as controlled substances. These drugs have been known to cause dizziness, confusion, disorientation, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, delusions, drowsiness, image distortion, relaxation, or altered perception of the environment. For these reasons, any use of a controlled substance, no matter how small, can result in a DUI charge.

Here is a small sampling of controlled substances that can result in a DUI charge:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)
  • Anabolic steroids and other "body building" drugs
  • Codeine
  • Valium
  • Opium
  • Mescaline (found in peyote cacti)
  • Sleep aids (such as Lunesta and Ambien)

Unlike alcohol intoxication cases, defendants usually cannot fight a drugged driving charge based on the amount of the drug or the time it was taken before driving, as any amount of a controlled substance can potentially impair driving ability. There is also the problem of supplying proof, as blood tests are less reliable when testing levels of various drugs than alcohol intoxication.

At Zimmer, Duncan, and Cole, LLP, we can gather evidence on your behalf to reduce the charges against you. We can fight for minimal sentencing if your case goes to trial. Call us at 888-733-2992 or fill out our online contact form to discuss the details of your case today.


Category: Criminal Defense


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