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Attorneys Stephen G. Fabian Jr. and Brian P. Young

Many drivers face DUI charges due to their legal medication

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | DUI - Prescription Drugs |

Most people associate driving under the influence (DUI) charges with alcohol. After all, that is the focus in most media representation and awareness campaigns. Drivers understand that they could end up in jail if they decide to drive after having too much to drink.

Many people also recognize that the state could charge them with a DUI offense if they drive after using illegal drugs. However, there’s a bit of a logical disconnect when it comes to prescription medication. Many people assume it is legal for them to do what they want with a prescription medication if they have valid documentation from a physician.

Drivers may even tell officers during a traffic stop that their seemingly erratic driving was due to the medication they take. Some people end up very surprised when they get arrested for a DUI offense because of legally using a prescription in accordance with a doctor’s recommendations.

Prescribed drugs can affect driving skill

Contrary to what many people assume, a prescribed drug is not less dangerous than prohibited drugs simply because someone has a medical recommendation. Quite a few prescription medications are subject to controlled substances rules because they pose a risk of abuse, medical harm or addiction.

Many medications can affect someone’s ability to safely drive. Any prescribed medication that comes with a warning about driving or operating heavy machinery is a medication someone cannot legally take before getting behind the wheel. Drugs that affect cognition, wakefulness and motor function are among the drugs that have a negative impact on driving ability.

Even if someone believes they have developed a tolerance and are not at risk of the worst side effects a medication produces, it could still be dangerous to drive while taking that medication. Unlike alcohol, where there is a clear legal limit for how much people can have before getting behind the wheel, as there are no legal chemical limits for prescribed or prohibited drugs.

Someone who is facing a drugged driving DUI charge may need to use a different defense strategy than those facing a charge related to alcohol. Understanding that even the legal use of medication could lead to charges could help people make more informed decisions about when they drive or how they answer to a DUI arrest.