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Is a DUI for prescription medications different?

Driving under the influence of drugs probably creates images in your head of a person taking cocaine or heroin before getting into his or her vehicle. The fact is that any drug, prescribed or not, can cause you to be distracted, sleepy or to appear intoxicated if its side effects can create those effects.

Does it matter if the drug is prescribed or not?

Driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs is illegal regardless of the type you're on; if you're weaving, falling asleep behind the wheel or otherwise being dangerous on the roads, you can be charged.

Are there any good defenses for driving while under the influence of a prescription medication?

You can make the defense that you did not know you would be affected in that manner or show that you were never affected in that way in the past. Both defenses could work to reduce your penalties or potentially to have the case dismissed. However, patients need to be aware of the drugs they're taking.

If the side of a bottle of pills or the patient literature states that the medication could cause drowsiness, nausea, hallucinations or other major concerns, you should consider that risk before you get behind the wheel. Take your medications in a safe place before you choose to drive; you'll have a better chance of seeing if you will struggle with side effects if you wait a period of time before you begin to drive.

If you're involved in a crash, you may want to look into developing a strong defense. Despite not being on illicit drugs, you still need to protect your future.

Source: FindLaw, "Driving Under the Influence of Drugs," accessed Jan. 23, 2017

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