Being Charged with DUI While Taking a Prescription Medication

With more states legalizing the use of marijuana, people often wonder about DUI drugs charges. What they fail to realize is a person may be taking a medication prescribed by a physician and also be charged with this crime. Every state has two types of DUI charges, impairment and per se. The impairment charge is what typically relates to the use of prescription medications, and the law takes into account the effects of the medication on the person as opposed to the amount of medication in the system. If this effect is substantial, the individual may be charged with DUI.

Why Is This Distinction Important?

When considering impairment, the state looks at any substance that can lead to intoxication, even one legally prescribed. The legality of the substance isn’t in question. What the court looks at is the effect. The reason for this is the person can still do harm to him or herself or others as a result of the impairment. Although it was not intentional, the outcome is the same, which is what is of importance at this time.

How Can a Person Defend Against This Charge?

Legal advice should be sought immediately in this situation, as some states do offer a limited defense for situations such as this. In these states, if the driver can prove the medication was taken exactly as prescribed by the physician, the charges may be reduced or dropped. However, in order for this defense to be used, the medication must not come with a warning label advising individuals to use caution when operating a motor vehicle.

As more states decide to allow for the use of recreational marijuana, DUI drug charges are likely to increase. This is to be expected. However, individuals are often shocked to learn they have been charged with this crime after taking a prescription provided by a physician. This happens more than many people realize, as they assume the drug is safe for everyday use. Keep this in mind and, if charged with this crime after using a prescription medication, contact an attorney immediately. He or she can best advise you how to proceed and what defense, if any, may be of benefit in this situation.