How Prescription Drugs Can Lead to a DUI
Arrests for driving under the influence in Valdosta County have remained steady. What has changed is the substance behind the arrests. While most people consider alcohol to be a driving force in charges for driving under the influence, law enforcement officials say that prescription drugs have taken over as the leading cause for DUI arrests.
People sometimes believe that because they are prescribed a medication by their doctor, they cannot be arrested for driving under the influence. This is not the case. Any substance that leads to the impaired ability to drive a vehicle responsibly and safely is against the law. If you are pulled over for a traffic infraction in Georgia and are found to be under the influence of a prescription medication that has altered your ability to drive, you can be charged with DUI.
There are several drugs that may be prescribed to treat medical conditions that could impair one’s ability to drive. If you are prescribed any of the following medications, it’s important to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about possible impairment before you get behind the wheel. Many medications have a warning to not operate heavy machinery — including a car — until you know how that drug affects you.
- Antidepressants: These drugs have a sedating effect on most people who take them. They can alter reaction times, making it hazardous to drive.
- Antihistamines: If you have allergies and take prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines, you may want to be very careful about driving. These drugs are known to slow reaction times and alter coordination.
- Decongestants: These drugs are known to cause drowsiness. Whether you are taking a prescription cold medicine or one that you have chosen off the shelf, check the warning label carefully.
- Hydrocodone: This drug is a common pain reliever. It is found in Vicodin and it has effects similar to that of morphine and codeine. If you are on any prescription pain reliever, especially an opioid, your doctor may suggest that you don’t take it for several hours before you are going to drive.
If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Georgia, your penalties may be the same whether you consumed alcohol or a prescription medication. Simply having the legal and medical right to take a drug does not make it legal to drive impaired.
Any person who is given a prescription medication should speak with their doctor about the possible effects that medication will have on their ability to drive. If a person cannot avoid driving, they should discuss alternate therapies with their medical provider or find out how long the drug will impair their ability to drive after being ingested.
If you are charged with driving under the influence in Atlanta, you are facing serious consequences. Reach out to our team of criminal defense attorneys today for expert legal advice. We are here to fight for your rights in court and help you achieve the best outcome possible. Call our office today and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will assist you in making the best possible decisions for your unique situation.