Could Your Prescription Lead to a DUI Charge?

You may consider yourself someone who knows how to drink responsibly, would never get behind the wheel while intoxicated and would never use illegal drugs. Because of your mindset to remain a safe and responsible driver, you may not think that charges for driving under the influence would ever apply to you. However, you could face such a charge even if you think you have not broken the law.

If a doctor has prescribed you a medication, you need to fully understand the effects that medication could have on you and your abilities. Though the drug is not illegal because you obtained a valid prescription from a doctor for a medical reason, you could still face DUI charges if the drug can impair your abilities and you choose to get behind the wheel.

Impaired driving

"DUI" does not just refer to driving under the influence of alcohol. The abbreviation can also apply to driving under the influence of drugs. Many prescription medications can have side effects that may seem relatively minor but that could put you and others in harm's way if you drive after taking the drug. Some side effects may include the following:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed movement
  • Inability to pay attention or focus

While you may not have thought much of these possible side effects when your doctor or pharmacist told you about them, you may wish you had paid better attention if a police officer pulls your vehicle over.

Do charges really apply?

Even if an officer does stop your vehicle and takes you into custody, you may wonder if DUI charges really apply to your situation. Typically, the two elements that must exist for a DUI charge to apply include:

  • Driving a vehicle on a public road or otherwise having actual physical control of the vehicle as dictated by Wisconsin state law
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or any legal or controlled substances

If you had control of a vehicle and an officer considers you under the influence of your prescription medication, you could face an applicable DUI charge.

Defending against allegations

Of course, just like with any type of criminal charge, you have the right to defend against allegations of DUI. You may never have expected to find yourself in this type of situation, but because you have, it is important that you understand your legal options. Gaining information from local legal resources may help you determine the best course of action for your case.