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Tiger Woods DUI highlights prescription drug use while driving

Memorial Day is certainly memorable for some. For PGA golfer Tiger Woods, it will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. His early morning arrest in Florida for DUI teed off the week's headlines and raised important points about driving under the influence of prescription drugs. When a celebrity gets involved in anything, the situation is always more complicated - and Woods' arrest is no different. What can we learn from it?

Tiger in a cage

At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, Woods was found asleep in his vehicle. He blew a .000 on his breath test but failed the field sobriety test. How can this be? Woods claims his behavior was due to an "unexpected reaction" from prescription drugs he was taking following back surgery.

Dangers of drugged driving

Accidents involving drugged drivers have doubled since 2007. In fact, 21 percent of fatal crashes in 2015 involved a driver who was under the influence of drugs, according to MarketWatch. It is no wonder then that police treat driving under the influence of prescription drugs, sometimes called DUID, with the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol.

What does North Carolina law say?

State law says drivers can be charged with DUI if their blood alcohol concentration measures 0.08 or higher, or are found to be under the influence of other substances. Like Woods' arrest, the law is written to give police officers discretion to inquire about the use of more than just alcohol. Woods admitted at the scene that he had taken prescription drugs.

What are the penalties for DUI?

First-time DUI offenders in North Carolina can face criminal fines and administrative penalties of:

  • Up to one year of license revocation.
  • Mandatory alcohol education, treatment or assessment.
  • Use of an ignition interlock system to start a vehicle.

Earning some stripes back

Most people who are arrested for DUI of prescription drugs do not have a reckless intent. Rather, they are people who made a mistake or experienced unexpected side effects, as Woods claims.

Use of prescription drugs can make DUI sentencing complicated. Therefore, judges are sometimes willing to hear testimony about mitigating circumstances related to a person's use of medicine that resulted in a DUI arrest.

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