It’s an unfortunate certainty: you can face DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges for getting behind the wheel after taking prescription medicines. Many people wonder how this is possible, and we’ll try to explain here. In simple terms, the use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs can lead to DWI arrests and convictions just as in cases involving alcohol consumption.
The state’s legislature wants to do everything possible to prevent impaired driving and ensure motorists’ safety. Though you may be taking these medicines legally and as prescribed, you can still face arrest for DWI if they adversely affect your driving. If you’re facing charges, a Springfield, MO DWI attorney can offer help and legal advice.
In the sections below, you will find information on DWI charges related to prescription drug use, a list of side effects that may affect your driving ability, and tips on finding legal help. Always follow your physician’s instructions and consult them if you’re unsure of a medicine’s effects.
The General Elements of a DWI Case
To be arrested and charged with DWI, a defendant must have:
· Driven on a public road (or was in control of a vehicle)
· Been under the influence of controlled or legal substances
When a person is under the influence, their ability to safely operate a vehicle is affected by drugs, alcohol, or some combination thereof. By that definition, it is possible to be under the influence when consuming prescription medicines.
Facing Charges for Prescription Drug-Related DWI
The rules outlined above apply in every state as well as the District of Columbia—including the use of prescription drugs. Many over-the-counter and prescription medicines have effects on users’ motor skills and coordination even when taken as directed. Some of the most common effects that may impact driving ability include:
- Blurry vision
- Slowed movement
- An inability to focus
Everyone is different, and medicines will affect people in unique ways. However, when a medication affects motor skills, concentration, judgment, or alertness, it can be just as risky as alcohol. Any of these symptoms can lead to slower reaction times, unsafe driving, and auto accidents. While some assume that BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is the only way to get a DWI, that’s not the case. The Food and Drug Administration advises against driving while taking certain prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Other substances such as ginseng supplements and kombucha tea (which contain small amounts of alcohol) may also affect your driving abilities. Kombucha tea, for example, contains enough alcohol to register on a BAC test in some situations.
Penalties for Drug-Related DWI
In most instances, the penalties for drug-related and alcohol-related DWIs are the same as long as there aren’t any aggravating factors. It’s important to remember, though, that every case is different, and your sentence will depend on various factors, including your prior criminal history and the severity of the offense. If you’re facing DWI charges, consult an attorney in Springfield right away.
Are You Facing DWI Charges After Taking Legal Drugs? A Local Attorney Can Help
While it might seem incomprehensible that taking prescription drugs can get you arrested, it is illegal to drive while you’re impaired for any reason. To answer questions about prescription drug-related DWI charges, consult a qualified attorney in your area.