DUI Case Law and Updates
William S. Hardman, Jr.
Attorney at Law
Attorney at Law
DUI Case Results-Prescription Drug DUI in State Court, Failure to Maintain Lane and striking a pedestrian
Our client was accused of DUI Prescription Drugs (Klonopin) and failure to maintain lane. Client was traveling home in the early hours of the morning after a night at a friend's house. While driving through a sharp curb in Hall County, he struck a pedestrian with the passenger side mirror of his vehicle. He called for an ambulance while he waited with the pedestrian. When officers arrived, they questioned client as to whether he had consumed any drugs or alcohol that morning. Being completely honest with the officer, client informed the officer that he had taken a tablet of Klonopin or clonozepam which is a sedative, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant on the night before the accident. Client performed the HGN eye test and allegedly exhibited 6 out of 6 possible clues on the test. The officer requested a blood test under the Georgia Implied Consent law and the client submitted to a blood test. Client's blood test results showed that Klonopin was present in his blood at the time of the accident.
After researching Klonopin, I discovered that my client's level of Klonopin was at the very bottom end of the therapeutical level of the drug. The therapeutical range for a drug is the amount of the drug that should be in a person's system if they are taking the medication as prescribed by a doctor. This means that it was likely that the drug was present in client's system but not likely at a level that would impair his driving ability.
Next, after more research on Klonopin, I determined that it may be unlikely that client would have exhibited 6 out of 6 clues on the HGN test because Klonopin is an anticonvulsant. The HGN test is a voluntary field sobriety test that looks for nystagmus which is an involuntary twitching or jerking of the eye. This is typically caused by the consumption of alcohol. Klonopin is one of the primary drugs that is used to treat nystagmus! That being said, it is unlikely that the Klonopin caused any nystagmus. Further, client's blood test was negative for any level of alcohol.
Last, was the review of why the pedestrian would have been on the shoulder of a busy road at such an early morning hour. After researching the background information, it was determined that the pedestrian has an illegal drug problem and may have been under the influence which explains why she was in the roadway at such an early hour.
After presenting the medical research and the potential problems with the pedestrian witness, client's DUI charge was reduced to reckless driving. Client entered a plea of no contest to the reckless driving charge. This case was handled by Bill Hardman.