It may be obvious that driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs is unlawful and dangerous, but what about legal medications? Some prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications may affect your driving ability and leave you with a DUI charge. In fact, an AAA fact sheet says that prescription drugs are the most common drug detected in impaired drivers after fatal accidents.

That is right–you may face a serious criminal conviction even if you are taking a drug legally. Here is how taking legal medications may result in impairment and DUI arrests.

Prescription and OTC impairment

Some drugs you legally purchase from your local pharmacy may be dangerous for your driving. Potential effects of certain legal drugs include:

  • Antihistamines: Impaired coordination and slow reaction
  • Sleeping pills: Drowsiness, even the morning after taking them
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin): Dizziness, lightheadedness, blurry vision and drowsiness
  • Antidepressants: Sedation and fatigue
  • Valium: Tiredness
  • Decongestants: Anxiety, dizziness and drowsiness

Before you get behind the wheel after taking one of these, make sure you read the warning labels or talk to the pharmacist about potential side effects. Of course, drugs may affect different motorists in unique ways.

Medical marijuana

Now that marijuana is available for medicinal purposes in Florida, it is crucial to know you may still get a DUI if you use the drug legally. Even a valid recommendation for medical cannabis from your doctor will not keep you from getting pulled over, arrested and charged with DUI. 

Drug DUI penalties

If you are facing a DUI due to legal drug use, you can expect to get a similar punishment as you would for drunk driving. Just because the drug was legal does not necessarily mean the justice system will look favorably upon you. This is why it is crucial to get help from a criminal defense attorney if you are in this situation.