Can I be Arrested for DUI by Taking Prescription Medication?
The answer is yes, you can be arrested for DUI for drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs or even taking drugs which you have been prescribed and are taking as directed.
How DUI Is Legally Defined
The “DUI” means “Driving Under the Influence.” You will notice that the questions of under the influence of what is left open.
The law almost universally states that only two fact must be proven to find you guilty of DUI. First, that you were driving a car. Second, that your ability to do so was impaired by drinking alcohol, taking a drug (even when prescribed), or both.
You cannot defend yourself from the charge by stating the drug was prescribed by your doctor and that you took it as directed. You will be found guilty.
Know Your State’s DUI Laws
There are some states that have different ways to enforce their DUI laws. In Massachusetts, the law states impairment for a DUI charge come from “narcotic drugs, depressants, and stimulant substances.”
California denies the defense that one is entitled to use a drug just because it was prescribed. The state also limits drivers with certain disabilities from driving, such as one who is addicted to a drug.
The Future of DUI Charges
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is trying to influence enactment of laws to charge drivers with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems, not just the usual 0.08 percent blood alcohol content used in today’s laws.
Protecting Yourself from a DUI Charge
Before driving while taking a new drug, carefully read the written warnings that come with it. Ask your physician and/or your pharmacist if it is safe for you to drive. Some drugs will need to be used carefully at first until you are accustomed to the dose and know how you will react to the drug.
Drugs like Ambien, Xanax and all pain killing drugs are dangerous for many people. There is often problems, particularly when newly prescribed and certainly when mixed with alcohol.
Carefully consider what prescription drugs you are taking and what are the consequences of driving while taking them, particularly at night. Ask your pharmacist if it is safe to do so and what will happen if you drink alcohol, even one beer.
It is certainly preferable to stay at home and not injure someone in an avoidable accident or end up with an expensive DUI ticket.