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Do You Take Prescription Drugs? What You Need to Know

Dec. 31, 2019

For many people, prescription drugs are a part of everyday life. If you, like many Florida residents, use medications to manage health conditions, pain, a mood disorder, etc., you may not think twice about taking your meds before you get behind the wheel of a vehicle. However, FindLaw warns that some medications may put you at risk for a DUI.

Prescription medications, such as antidepressants, painkillers, antihistamines and anxiety medications, can have an adverse effect on your mental clarity and therefore, your ability to drive. Law enforcement is familiar with the impairing effects of many drugs and so looks for drivers who may be “drugged.” To ensure you are not one of them, there are a few things you should know about prescription medications and DUIs.

First and foremost, there is no “minimum” level for prescription drug impairment. When a driver consumes alcohol, law enforcement must rely on “per se” laws, which mandate that a driver’s blood alcohol concentration meet a certain level before the officer can legally declare him or her “intoxicated.” For drugged driving, there is no “minimum.” If an officer pulls you over for impaired driving and tests reveal you have, say, a sleep medication, in your system, he or she may arrest you for drugged driving. This is the case even if you took the sleep medication the night before.

Another thing that you should know is that law enforcement has several ways to test for prescription drugs in one’s system. Drug swabs, which officers can administer on the spot, are extremely accurate to the point where they can even detect Xanax. However, failing this test, an officer may still request a blood test.

If you do face DUI charges for prescription drug use, know that you do have defense options. A charge is not a conviction, and with the right defense lawyer on your side, you can put the whole ordeal behind you. Though there are several defenses you can use to fight a DUI, two are more common when a case involves prescription drugs:

  • You took the wrong pill by mistake (e.g., You meant to take Tylenol but you took Zoloft instead.)

  • Someone drugged you involuntarily (e.g., Someone slipped a GHB into your drink)

Knowing these facts should help you to avoid a DUI for prescription drug use. However, as FindLaw says, your best bet is to consult with an attorney to evaluate all your options.

You should not use the contents of this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.