If you have been charged with vehicular homicide in Georgia and you were under the influence of prescription medication when you were driving you do have a unique defense available to you that many lawyers in Georgia will sometimes overlook. For starters, Georgia law does not punish you for mistake or an accident. Meaning, if you are prescribed prescription medicine and drive after you took prescription medication you may be excused in your conduct through excusable ignorance. There are several factors the jury will consider, but in my experience, you have to meet several criteria to have a more robust defense. First, you have to have taken the impairing drugs pursuant to a lawful prescription. Second, you will need to be within therapeutic limits – meaning taking the drug as prescribed. It doesn’t do good if you are prescribed 5 mg of a drug and you are taking three times the amount. Third, your doctor or pharmacist failed to warn you not to drive after taking the medication. Similarly, if your prescription bottle displays a warning of ‘do not drive under this prescription’ then you should not drive and your defense of accident or mistake is seriously weakened. Fourth, it should be a newer prescription. Why is this important? It means you are unfamiliar with the reaction your body and/or mind has when having taken the prescription medicine.
As mentioned, once you have been charged with Vehicular Homicide in Georgia and you are taking a medication as prescribed and the jury believes you did so through not knowing any better you can be excused from the criminal act. Yes, nobody likes excuses – especially a jury – but if you truly did not have the intent to become impaired or did not know the disruption on your mind of consuming a prescription medicine, Georgia law protects you. It is important to understand the difference between justification and excuse. Justification means you intended the act and consequences that stem from the act but you were justified. An example may be self-defense where you shot and killed someone trying to kill you. Excuse is where your conduct is not justified, but in the Georgia legislature’s estimation your actions are excusable because of what failed to transpire in your mind. A top level highly experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer can explain this to a jury.