Driving under the influence is a serious offense that typically brings to mind alcohol or illegal substances.
However, can you receive a DUI if you are taking prescribed drugs? The answer is yes, and you should understand the potential risks involved.
Understanding DUI laws
DUI laws vary by jurisdiction, but they universally focus on impairment while operating a vehicle. This impairment is not limited to alcohol or illegal substances; prescription medications can also cause impairment. If the effects of your medications compromise your ability to drive, you could face DUI charges.
Prescription medications and impairment
Many prescription medications come with warning labels about their potential to cause drowsiness or affect coordination. These side effects can impact your ability to drive safely. Even if you take your medication as directed by a healthcare professional, you are responsible for understanding how it might affect your ability to operate a vehicle.
Roadside tests and DUI arrests
In 2021, alcohol-impaired driving resulted in 13,384 deaths. This statistic has reinforced law enforcement’s use of field sobriety and breath tests. However, these tests may not accurately measure impairment caused by prescription medications. If an officer suspects impairment, he or she may arrest you and take you in for a blood test, which detects the presence of drugs in your system.
Being charged with a DUI may result in fines, license suspension, mandatory educational programs and even jail time, depending on the circumstances and prior offenses. Additionally, a DUI charge can have long-term effects on your insurance rates and employment opportunities.
To avoid a DUI related to prescription medications, learn about the potential side effects. If you are unsure about how a medication may affect your ability to drive, consult your healthcare provider.