Can prescription medication lead to a DUI charge?

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2021 | DUI |

More and more people rely on prescription medication or strong over the counter drugs on a daily basis to alleviate serious health conditions or symptoms. Unfortunately, these drugs – or combinations of drugs – often carry significant side effects that can ultimately result in a criminal charge.

While people often equate driving under the influence (DUI) to include only alcohol, offenses related to legal drugs are on the rise. Different medications can affect drivers in different ways, but there are some common side-effects that could impair ability, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired cognition
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Nausea

Even though it might seem counterintuitive that a legal substance can lead to criminal consequences, drivers must be aware of the possibility. The penalties for a DUI conviction versus an impairment charge for driving under the influence of a properly prescribed medication are largely the same. Drivers could face significant penalties including fines, jail time, increased insurance premiums, license suspension or the loss of driving privileges.

There are certain categories of substances that might be more troublesome for a driver, including:

  • Pain relivers: Seeking strong pain relief after a surgery or sports injury can lead drivers to take opiates or other medications. Unfortunately, these can cause dizziness and disorientation.
  • Antihistamines: While there are many options for non-drowsy medications, not all antihistamines can advertise that claim.
  • Stimulants: Drivers might attempt to combat fatigue by taking a stimulant such as caffeine pills or an energy drink. Unfortunately, these substances can make it difficult to concentrate and lead to erratic driving.

It is important to seek strong, effective defense even if you consider the charges to be relatively minor. Traffic violations can quickly compound resulting in serious consequences.