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DUID: Even prescription medications can lead to charges

When you think about a drunk driving accident, you probably assume that someone has been drinking too much at a local bar or made the poor choice to get behind the wheel after having too many drinks at home. However, there are instances where people are arrested for driving under the influence of other substances.

Drugs are one of the main causes of impaired driving collisions. While many people believe that only illegal drugs are a violation of the law, the reality is that even prescription medications can lead to a driver being charged with a DUID, or a charge for driving under the influence of drugs.

Why can you be charged for driving under the influence of prescription medications?

You won't always be, but if your prescription medications change the way you drive, you could be putting yourself at risk of these charges. For example, if you take a sleep aid that doesn't wear off well in the morning, you could be groggy or end up falling asleep behind the wheel. This could lead to a DUID for impaired driving while taking the medication, even though it's given to you by prescription.

Another example would be a drug like albuterol, which can lead to side effects such as muscle spasms and shaking throughout the body. Nervousness is also a side effect. If a driver's preoccupation with these symptoms causes distractions and a crash, then they could be charged with a DUID.

Can you defend yourself if you're charged with a DUID for prescription or over-the-counter medications?

The good news is that there are a few solid defenses for people in this situation. The primary defense is showing that you've been able to safely take the medications in the past without the side effects you had this time. As a result, you couldn't have predicted their impact on your driving. This helps show that this was a medical emergency or unusual medical situation instead of a situation where you drove knowing that you did not have control of your faculties.

If this is the first time you've taken the medication, you could also argue that you didn't know about side effects that you weren't warned about. However, most judges will suggest that you should have seen how the medication affected you before driving. Still, this can be a helpful defense, in some cases.

These are some things to know about driving while taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Be safe, so you can get where you're going without risking your life or the lives of others.

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Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

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