St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) October 10, 2014 - A 19-year old man has been charged with driving while intoxicated after he crashed into a school bus. He admitted to officers on the scene that he had taken methadone before driving.
The driver, Columbia, Missouri resident Devin Barnes, claims that he takes methadone under a doctor’s prescription as a treatment for heroin abuse.
“This arrest raises a host of legal issues,” commented Charlie James, a Missouri DWI lawyer who does not represent Barnes. “Methadone can be taken legally with a prescription, but it is still a controlled substance. In these cases, the accused may or may not be able to use the existence of a doctor-supervised treatment plan to defend against the DWI charge.”
Under federal statutes, methadone is considered a controlled substance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that methadone can cause moderate to severe impairment in some users and no impairment in others.
In Missouri, if a driver fails sobriety tests because he or she is under the influence of any controlled substance, including methadone, that driver may be arrested and charged with DWI -- regardless of whether the substance was legally prescribed by a physician.
According to news reports, Barnes was pulled over for erratic driving. Officers noticed that Barnes had glassy eyes and slurred speech, and they requested that Barnes agree to a field sobriety test. At that point, Barnes requested an attorney but admitted that he was under the influence of methadone.
Barnes also faces another DWI charge from earlier this year. If found guilty on both charges, he could face up to one year in jail and up to $1000 in fines.
James Law Group, LLC
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St. Peters, MO 63376
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