When you think about driving under the influence, your thoughts probably go to the same place as most other people -- alcohol. Your second thought may include illicit drugs such as marijuana, heroin or cocaine, among other things.
More than likely, you would never have thought about prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Many people fail to realize that their prescription medication or an over-the-counter medicine could cause them to face DUI charges.
The effects of legal medication
If you consider the side effects of many prescription and OTC medication, it isn't difficult to imagine that you could be considered impaired. For instance, common side effects of some medications include the following:
- Slowed movement
- Lack of concentration
- Blurred vision
These issues could slow your reaction time, impair your judgment and reduce your motor skills. You may also not be as alert and able to react to an emergency while taking an OTC or prescription drug. Sound familiar? These are all the hallmarks of a drunk or drugged driver. As long as you are in physical control of a vehicle and under the influence of a substance that impairs your ability to safely drive, you may face DUI charges.
The DUI traffic stop
Even though you may pass a breath test, you may not pass a field sobriety test while on your prescription or OTC medication. Combined with any sort of erratic driving behavior, a police officer may have enough probable cause for an arrest.
Make no mistake; you face the same penalties for a DUI involving legal drugs as you would for an alcohol or drug-related DUI. This means that it could also have the same effects on your personal and professional lives. If police consider you at fault in an accident while you were taking your medication, that could create other charges as well, and you may face an aggravated DUI charge.
The need for support
If you find yourself under arrest for DUI because you took an OTC or prescription medication, you may find it worthwhile to find out your rights and legal options as quickly as possible. Even if the charge is a misdemeanor, it may not be a good idea to simply plead guilty in order to put a quick end to the matter. Even an arrest can affect your employment, your chances of receiving a scholarship or even your housing options.
Taking quick action to resolve the matter with the best outcome possible could help you get your life back on track with the least amount of difficulty both now and in the future.