Timothy O. McCalep

Tiger Woods arrest highlights issue of DUI charges based on prescription drug use

Many readers may have heard that Tiger Woods was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence near his Florida home. Police reportedly found Woods asleep behind the wheel. Shortly after the arrested, Woods released a statement that he was not intoxicated at the time of the arrest, and that he had an unforeseen reaction to prescription medications.

Police based the citation on the observation that Woods’ speech was slurred and slow, that he was disoriented, and that he didn’t have a coherent story about how he got there and how he was headed. Woods’ explanation, though, was subsequently corroborated in a police report indicating that he had no alcohol in his system at the time of arrest, and that he did have several pain medications in his blood.

It isn’t known yet whether Tiger Woods will be challenging the DUI charge, but his case highlights an important issue of which many people may not be aware. While driving under the influence is typically associated with alcohol intoxication or impairment with illegal drugs, charges can also be based on prescription drug impairment.

Drugged driving charges are based on Georgia law that motor vehicle drivers must not be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive. In other words, any impairment in driving as a result of drugs can warrant charges.

At present, there are no clear biometric tests that determine clearly whether a drugged driver’s performance has been impaired, so law enforcement officers have to base citations on observations of the driver. In many cases, this works fine, but it is not accurate in every case.

In our next post, we’ll say more about this topic, and the importance of working with an experienced attorney to challenge unfair DUI charges based on prescription drug use.


People.com, “What Happens Next for Tiger Woods After DUI Arrest Despite Zero Alcohol in His System? A Legal Expert Weighs In,” Char Adams, May 30, 2017.

ESPN.com, “Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida, says alcohol 'not involved',” Bob Harig, May 30, 2017. 

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