It’s no secret that driving under the influence of alcohol is a bad idea. But what about prescription medications? Can you get a DUI for taking your medication as prescribed?
How do prescription medications affect your ability to drive?
Certain medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness and impaired judgment—all of which can make driving dangerous. For instance, pain medications like opioids can cause drowsiness and make it hard to focus on the task of driving. Benzodiazepines, which are often prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders, can also cause drowsiness and impair your ability to drive.
Some prescription medications can also cause blurred vision or slowed reaction times. For instance, certain antidepressants can cause blurred vision. And beta-blockers, which are often prescribed for heart conditions, can slow your reaction time.
DUI and prescription medications
Police officers often stop drivers who they suspect are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’re taking prescription medications, it’s important to be prepared for a traffic stop.
Be sure to carry your prescription with you and be able to show the officer that you have a legitimate reason for taking the medication. If you’re unsure whether a particular medication will impair your ability to drive, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
It’s also important to know that you can get charged with a DUI even if you’re taking your medication as prescribed. If a police officer believes your ability to drive is impaired, you could get arrested and charged with a DUI.
It is possible to use your prescription as a defense in a DUI case, but it’s important to know the law. In California, you can be charged with a DUI if you’re found to be driving while impaired by any drug—including prescription medications. However, you may be able to avoid a conviction if you can show that the medication didn’t actually impair your ability to drive.
Whenever you start taking a new medication, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any side effects that might affect your ability to drive safely. If you’re concerned about how a medication might affect your driving, ask your doctor if there’s an alternative medication.