A news article caught my eye as a Coral Springs car wreck lawyer recently because it featured a celebrity resident of South Florida caught driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. David Cassidy, a former teen idol who appeared on the 1970s-era television show “The Partridge Family,” was arrested Nov. 3 for driving under the influence of both alcohol and hydrocodone, a powerful prescription opiate painkiller sold most commonly as Vicodin. Cassidy lives in Fort Lauderdale, but was pulled over in St. Lucie County on the Florida Turnpike after an officer noticed erratic driving. Cassidy tried but failed to complete field sobriety tests to the officer’s satisfaction, which was captured on a video released Nov. 29. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Cassidy has pleaded not guilty to DUI, failing to stay in his lane and an open container violation.
According to information released by the local prosecutor’s office, Cassidy was pulled over after an FHP trooper noticed him weaving around the road and nearly causing a crash. The trooper tried to take Cassidy through field sobriety tests, but Cassidy apparently had trouble following directions and kept interrupting. However, the video shows him apologizing and trying to cooperate, saying he does not believe he is impaired and offering to run through the tests a second time. Instead, he was arrested, and blood tests later registered blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.139 and 0.141, both above the 0.08 legal limit. Cassidy said he’d taken legally prescribed hydrocodone and had a glass of wine at lunch, but troopers also found a half-empty bottle of bourbon in the car. He was scheduled to appear in court again Nov. 30.
As a Wellington auto accident attorney, I was particularly interested in this case because it might raise drivers’ awareness of the dangers of driving on prescription drugs. Many drivers are surprised to find out that even when a drug was legally prescribed for a legitimate medical need, that doesn’t mean it’s legal to take it before driving. Florida law lists some of these drugs in detail, but in general, the prohibited drugs are the ones that could affect drivers’ ability to drive safely, including sleep aids, strong painkillers, sedatives and anti-anxiety medications. Vicodin, the drug Cassidy had apparently been using, has the further problem of increasing the effects of alcohol. This can make patients drunker than they expect from even small amounts of alcohol. But this should be very well marked on the drug’s label, giving Cassidy little excuse to be surprised by it.