Q: I was driving on Christmas Day, at night, on the way to pick up my husband from work. I had a police officer come right up on my car, and pull me over. He was IMMEDIATELY persistent that I was under the influence. I haven’t drunk in 4 years, and I haven’t had any drugs in my system for well over a year. I told him I had nerve damage and have bad balance, and such I failed the old toe to heel walk and was given a blood test. I was then released and went on my merry way (with someone else driving my car, which was not towed, thankfully) after being driven back to my car by the officer. I am on 2 medications (methadone and Elavil) but have been on them long enough that I am very well adjusted (13 months and 12 years respectively) and am not impaired when I take it. What should I expect from here? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: As you may be aware, you can be charged for DUI based on a police officer’s observations, and/or based on the laboratory result from your blood alcohol testing. Methadone is a controlled substance, as I believe Elavil is. I will assume you have prescriptions for both. To prosecute, the Commonwealth would have to send your blood to a lab which has the capability of determining if the levels of either narcotic exceeded prescribed therapeutic levels. I have had the Commonwealth continue preliminary hearings with these cases numerous times awaiting these lab tests but have never seen a conclusive test. I would not treat this lightly and get prepared. First, contact a lawyer. Secondly, do not make statements to police if they contact you. Third, obtain copies of your past 6-months prescriptions from your physician to show that you are maintaining a legally prescribed dosage and not abusing medication. You can also talk to your doctor about the situation and see if he will draft a letter or provide documents that support your physical limitations.