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DUI charges based on drug use termed "wake-up call"

Residents of Lackawanna County often think of drunk driving charges as arising only from excessive use of alcohol, but the recent arraignment of a woman from Scranton for repeated DUI offenses involving prescription painkillers has been termed a "wake-up call for everyone."

The woman was arrested three times in 2015 for allegedly driving under the influence of painkillers such as Xanex. The last such incident occurred in October when the woman struck and injured an intermediate school student while she was walking across an intersection. The woman also struck a crossing guard. The guard's injuries were minor, but the teenager is still receiving medical treatment for her injuries.

At the arraignment a week ago, prosecutors alleged that the woman had been under the influence of painkillers in the "toxic range" during each of the three incidents, and she was charged with more than a dozen DUI and aggravated vehicular homicide charges in conntection with the three arrests. Calling attention to the fact that the woman had three such arrests in a single calendar year, the prosecutor said that the case "needs to be a wake-up call for everyone."

Anyone who is facing charges for drunk driving, whether the charges are the result of overuse of alcohol or prescription or other drugs, is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In spite of the constitutional presumption of innocence, the consequences of a conviction can be catastrophic. A consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney can be very helpful by providing an overview of the case, potential defense strategies and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.

Source: PAHomepage, "Police: Driver Under Influence of Painkillers at Time of Crash Where Teen Hurt," Eric Deabill, Jan. 13, 2016

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