Can I Get Arrested for a DUI If I Was Using a Prescription Medication? 

Criminal Lawyer

In general, someone can be arrested and charged with a DUI if they were influenced by a medication that was prescribed by their doctor, or is legal to use in that state. The main factor is whether the driver was impaired by this medication or legal drug, so much so to where their driving was impacted and they put others at-risk. When people think of a DUI arrest, they usually think it only pertains to alcohol or illegal substances. However, anyone who is taking a prescription, over-the-counter medication, or legal drug must consider whether it is safe to operate a vehicle while it’s in their system.

Here we explain further how prescription medications and legal drugs can still result in a DUI charge: 

Prescription Medications

Every state has “per se” laws for a DUI, which prohibit someone from driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or above 0.08%. Certain states also have laws that make it illegal for someone to use their vehicle while impairing drugs are in their system. Typically, in these cases the drug is of an illegal nature, such as marijuana (in some states), cocaine, and methamphetamines.

But in other circumstances, the drug is not illegal and was lawfully obtained by their doctor or a drug store pharmacist. An “impairment DUI” doesn’t necessarily focus on the legal drug itself, but instead how it had impacted the driver’s system. So, for those who were arrested for an impairment DUI, bringing forward evidence that the drug was given by your doctor is unlikely to have much influence on the verdict.

Depending on the state you reside, the fact that you were impaired to any degree may be enough for the prosecution to win their case against you. Unfortunately, this means that many people arrested for this charge may not have a broad range of defenses. Visiting with an experienced attorney near you can help you develop a successful defense strategy.

Signs of Impairment

When law enforcement is patrolling an area, they are looking for certain behaviors that may mean a person is under the influence while behind the wheel. An officer is not permitted to halt a driver simply because they think someone may be intoxicated without any observable signs. If you believe that you were wrongfully stopped and were driving perfectly normal when the officer pulled you over, notify your attorney, like a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA from the Morales Law Firm, about this so they can investigate further to see if your rights may have been violated. Signs of impairment while driving can include:

  • Maneuvering the vehicle erratically
  • Swaying within the same lane or across multiple lanes
  • Slowly verging into oncoming traffic
  • Speeding or driving so slow that it is unsafe for others on the road
  • Failing to stop at a street light or stop sign
  • Braking and accelerating suddenly without reason 
  • Driving recklessly which puts pedestrians in danger
  • Violating other rules of the road 
  • Failing to yield to another driver’s right-of-way
  • Tailgating other drivers