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Can Prescription Drugs Lead to a DUI?

When driving under the influence comes to mind, it is common that people will only think about drunk driving. Many don’t realize that drugs, including prescription medications, can have the same impairing effects as alcohol. Even legally prescribed and appropriately used prescription drugs can hinder your ability to react quickly and can cause you to be charged with a DUI.

Common Prescription Drugs that Cause Impairment

There are many prescription medications that may cause dizziness, drowsiness, distractedness, or other impairing side effects. The effects of medications vary between individuals, so it is likely that what impairs one person may not impair another. Effects can also be compounded by multiple medications. Some common prescriptions that can impair drivers are:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Painkillers, including opioid and narcotic pain medications
  • Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants such as benzodiazepines and barbiturates
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants

How Drugged Driving Charges are Made

If your driving appears to be impaired, a police officer may stop you on suspicion of a DUI. They will likely administer roadside sobriety tests, such as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests or a breath test. If you display signs of impairment, but do not have a blood alcohol content reading, the officer will likely call a Drug Recognition Expert to evaluate you. It is likely that blood and urine samples will be taken and tested for substances. Because it takes several weeks for results to return, it may take time for you to be charged with a DUI.

It can be difficult to determine if an individual was impaired by their medications at the time of the stop, since prescription medications may linger in the bloodstream for days or even weeks after use. Because of this fact, Drug Recognition Experts are called in to examine drivers suspected of drugged driving. These experts will try to predict the drug that you are on at the time of the arrest. When your blood and urine results return, their testimony will be crucial to prove that you were under the influences of any medications that show up in the tests. They can be useful in building a case against you, but can also protect you from being arrested for a DUI when you were not impaired.

If it is found that you were driving while under the influence of prescription medications, you can be charged with a DUI, and face fines and license suspension.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you need the experienced, dedicated representation of our Santa Rosa DUI attorney. At the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C., we understand the impact a DUI conviction can have on your life. We are committed to protecting you and your driving privileges. Contact our firm today to begin your case with a free consultation.