Maybe your doctor prescribed muscle relaxants because you hurt your neck in a slip-and-fall incident. Perhaps you need to take opioid pain relievers to go about your daily business after having a surgery. There are many medications that you can legally take that could potentially affect your ability to drive.
Sleep medication, pain relievers, anti-seizure medications, diarrhea drugs, motion sickness pills, some psychiatric medications and even over-the-counter cough medicine could affect someone’s focus, their decision-making ability and their reaction time.
Many prescription medications and even some over-the-counter medications come with warning labels advising people not to take them before driving. If you have a medication with such a label or if you know a prescription affects your focus or motor control, then you could be at risk of an impaired driving charge if you get behind the wheel after taking that medication.
You shouldn’t drive if a medication affects how you think
Any medication that could affect your safety at the wheel is something you cannot lawfully use before driving. Even if you believe that you are capable of driving safely with the medication in your bloodstream due to plenty of practice, a police officer who pulls you over may not agree with your assertion that your driving was perfectly safe. They could arrest you, even if you’ve taken the medication for years without a crash.
Unlike alcohol, where you need to be over a certain limit for the state to charge you with the crime, simply driving at all while under the influence of a medication that could affect your driving ability could constitute an impaired driving offense. The prosecution won’t necessarily need to prove that you struggled to drive safely only that you took the medication before driving.
There are many defenses for drug driving allegations
Those accused of driving while impaired because of a medication will face many of the same penalties as someone who drives after consuming too much alcohol, such as jail time, fines and a driver’s license suspension. There may be defense strategies available, depending on the substances involve and the evidence that the prosecutor has for their case.
Understanding what actions violate impaired driving laws can help you avoid an arrest and embarrassing criminal charges.