Things You Need To Know About Prescription Drugs and Drugged Driving
We’ve all heard about drunk driving, but did you know that there is such a thing called drugged driving?
As the phrase indicates, drugged driving refers to driving while under the influence of drugs. When you’re caught behind the wheel while on a drug, you will face driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) charges, and you will need a DUI drug lawyer to defend you. It doesn’t even matter if the drug you’re on is legal.
Prescription drugs can get you charged with DUID.
If you thought that only cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, and other illicit substances in your system could only get you in trouble with the law, think again. Drugged driving laws across the United States cover painkillers, antidepressants, and other legally-prescribed drugs.
Prescription drugs were included because they have side effects that may lead to impaired driving. Painkillers like opioids, for example, have side effects not different from heroin, such as drowsiness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and nausea, all of which could lead to a serious road accident.
A doctor’s prescription won’t save you in some states.
If you’re arrested on suspicion of DUID in Arizona, Delaware, and Kansas, then don’t bother showing your doctor’s prescription to the arresting officers. According to DUID laws in those states, legal entitlement to use a drug is not an acceptable defense against a drugged driving charge. Arizona also has in place a per se prohibition against drugged driving.
DUI laws don’t make a distinction between alcohol and drugs.
In most states, DUI laws don’t distinguish between alcohol, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medications. All they care about is the possible impairment of the driver, and police officers will do everything from breathalyzer tests to field sobriety tests or FSTs to establish that before making a DUI or DUID arrest.
What do the officers do when they see an impaired driver?
One of the struggles that officers face is being able to distinguish drugged driving versus someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol. However, the typical law enforcement procedure entails:
- An officer will stop a driver if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is committing or is about to commit a crime
- An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) is only made if they have probable cause. They do this by considering all of the circumstances leading up to pulling you over, as well as through the use of field sobriety tests or preliminary breath tests.
- If a DUI suspect tests negative for alcohol, a Drug Recognition Expert may be called in to administer a test and identify if drugs are causing impairment.
What happens after a DUID conviction?
The punishment for DUID is often similar to that of DUI, although they may vary from state to state. Anyone convicted of a DUID may face a jail term, pay hefty fines, and have their driver’s license revoked, among other things. A DUID conviction will also become a prior or subsequent offense.
Is it possible to drive safely while on prescription drugs?
There may be strict laws in place against drugged driving, but it’s entirely possible to drive a vehicle safely despite having taken these medications. This, of course, will depend on the doctor who prescribed you those drugs in the first place.
As previously mentioned, police officers will look for any sign of impairment on a driver suspected of driving under the influence. So the trick is to make sure that your medications don’t impair your ability to drive in any way, and your doctor is the one who can do something about it.
Talk to your doctor and discuss with him or her all the possible side effects of certain drugs you have been prescribed. It would also be great if you can mention other medications and health supplements you’re taking because they might counteract with some of your prescription drugs.
Your doctor will then take any new information you brought to the fore into consideration. In all likelihood, your doctor will adjust the dosage of your prescription medication. It’s also possible that your physician may change your prescriptions altogether just to make sure they won’t have adverse effects on you.