The Iowa Supreme Court says drivers can use a “prescription drug defense” in hearings to revoke their driver’s license. The case involved Teresa Bearinger, who drove off the road and hit a mailbox two blocks from her home in Urbandale in May of 2011. She told police she was having trouble with her prescription medication for a neurological problem.
A drug test revealed prescription drugs, but no alcohol in her system. Iowa law allows drivers to take medications as prescribed by doctors and drive — as long as they don’t take alcohol with them. But the Iowa DOT said that “prescription drug defense” applies only to a criminal charge and does not apply to administrative hearings on license revocations.
The DOT revoked Bearinger’s license for 180 days, and she appealed. The Iowa Supreme Court ruling says the justices do not believe the legislature intended to withhold the prescription drug defense for an administrative license revocation, and ordered the revocation reversed.
See the full ruling here: Drug Defense ruling PDF