Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs

     We are seeing more arrests for DUI where the breath alcohol concentration is not consistent with the manifestations of impairment described in the arrest report or captured on video.  In some, but not all of these cases, the culprit is detected by a blood test, and that culprit is some drug other than alcohol that the client has consumed.  As more and more people take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) such as Paxil and Prozac, we will see more and more of these cases.

     Alcohol and many drugs do not simply have an additive effect; they have a synergistic effect.  That is to say that the effects of the two substances are not merely added together but are essentially multiplied.  When even an adult dose of acetaminophen may produce impairment equivalent to a BAC of .05, it is not difficult to understand how prescription medications combined with alcohol can cause serious impairment. 

     One of the other commonly abused drugs is oxycodone.  It is the narcotic found in Percoset (with acetaminophen) and Percodan (with aspirin).  It is a synthetic opioid and like its natural cousins can cause addiction and then withdrawal symptoms. 

     When we represent an individual with these drugs in his or her system at the time of arrest, it is almost always necessary to retain a pharmacologist or toxicologist.  Otherwise, an employee of the state crime lab will be the only “expert” in the courtroom, and that employee’s testimony, if unrefuted, will seal the defendant’s fate. 

Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website Written by Allen Trapp who is board certified by the National College for DUI Defense and the author of Georgia DUI Survival Guide Visit Website

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