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Tiger Woods arrest raises issue of DUI charges based on prescription drug impairment, P.1

New York readers may have heard that golf legend Tiger Woods was arrested at the end of May near his home in Florida and later charged with driving under the influence. According to police records, Woods had been asleep at the wheel with the car running, two of his tires flat, and damage to his vehicle.

Police based the DUI citation on Woods’ condition and appearance, as well as the fact that his speech was slurred and his lack of awareness of where he was, though he did apparently also ask how far he was from his home.  One interesting aspect of the case, though, is that Woods was not intoxicated with alcohol. 

During the arrest, Woods provided a urine sample which showed that he had no alcohol in his system, and he later issued a statement saying that he had taken prescription medications and had an unexpected reaction. Woods is due for his first court appearance in August, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the case.

Typically, DUI charges are connected to alcohol consumption, but New York, as other states, punishes driving while impaired by drugs as a crime. The law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with an impaired ability to safely operate the vehicle. While it is often presumed that the law refers to illegal drugs rather than prescription drugs, the law does encompass impairment by prescription drugs as well.

In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at DUI charges based on prescription drug use, some of the special considerations in these cases, and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest possible defense.        

Sources:

CNN, “Tiger Woods’ car had flat tires, he was asleep at wheel, police say,” Jill Martin & Rosa Flores, May 31, 2017.

ESPN, “Tiger Woods’ arraignment on DUI charge delayed until August,” Jun 15, 2017.

New York Vehicle Traffic Laws, Section 1192

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