Can Legally Prescribed Prescription Medications Cause You a DUID Charge?


Strange things are taking place on the roads and highways across America. Imagine getting pulled over by a police car, then asked to submit to a breathalyzer and asked to perform a sobriety test, all the while, knowing you have had nothing to drink. Sound crazy? Unfortunately, it’s not crazy, and it’s no coincidence; police across the nation are reporting an increase in drug DWI cases.


Not illegal drugs but perfectly legal prescription medications. Millions of Americans take prescription medication on a daily basis many, take three or more daily. If your medication has the potential to impair your skills in the slightest way, you could be pulled over and arrested for a drug DWI.


Often times, it’s not the medication in and of itself that can cause a problem, rather it’s the interaction among several or more pills or alcohol that more often than not, is the culprit. If you take medication prescribed by your physician and then have a drink or two, the combination can cause an elevated impairment beyond what you normally experience. Most states have worded their DWI statutes to include the phrase: if the person is impaired to the slightest degree. That phrase allows a police officer the leeway to pull any vehicle over that demonstrates any irregularity. And police across the nation are becoming highly sensitive to this very issue.


Given the fact that as a society we consume enormous amounts of prescribed medications, logic would demand that every driver be made aware of the relationship between prescription medications and drug DWI laws. Further examination of state statutes lead you to the conclusion that even over-the-counter medications fall under the umbrella of most every drug DWI statute. Many DWI attorney’s recommend you carry a copy of your prescriptions with you when you are behind the wheel in the event you get pulled over by police officers. Failure to do so could result in your getting charged with driving under the influence of illegal drugs.


Police officers are keen to notice if a driver’s reaction timing, motor skills, or judgment appears unusual in any way. And they have been trained extensively on the use and misuse of prescription drugs. Prescription medications that are known to be problematic include pain medication, muscle relaxers, and anti-anxiety drugs, although any combination of drugs could be cause for alarm. Most drugs that can easily impair ones judgment and motor skills come with warnings on the prescription bottles. It is the interaction among several seemingly safe medications that most patients and some pharmacists miss that can lead to trouble.


Most drivers know there are penalties if you are convicted of a DWI or DUI and they can be quite substantial. For example, you will serve some jail time in most every state. You will probably get court-supervised probation of some length. You could be required to install an ignition interlock device (a miniature breathalyzer needed to start your vehicle) inside your car and all states will impose severe fines and court charges. Finally you could lose your license temporarily or permanently.


Police officers routinely measure a person’s blood alcohol level while out in the field. Yet when it comes to prescription medications no such system of measurement exists. That leaves courts in a precarious situation where they must make decisions based on little more than conjecture, unlike when alcohol is involved. Lawyers make the point that lacking a set system to measure the level of prescription drugs in a person’s system leads to courts having to drop many of the cases. They also point out that charging someone with a DWI because they appeared to be impaired is not entirely reasonable or a standard they think the courts should set.


American’s take prescription drugs to live a healthier, longer, and happier life. Medications are part of who we are and no one sees them going away any time soon. Doctors are prescribing more medications today than ever before. This increase in prescription medications means more drivers, especially the elderly, could find themselves answering to a police officer when they least expect it. Prescription drugs bring many benefits when taken properly and under the close supervision of a doctor. Given the current structure of the DWI laws combined with a tremendous increase in the number of people taking prescription medications, it makes sense to visit your pharmacist and speak with your doctor to insure your medications will not cause you any impairment when driving down America’s roads and highways.



By Richard Jacobs

Share |