Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
If you have ever had a sickness that required an antibiotic or have received a prescription to help with some other type of ailment, you are aware that there are warnings on the bottle. For many types of drugs, there’s a caution about driving while taking that particular medication. If there is a warning on your drug, you should heed those warnings and avoid driving at least until you understand and experience the effects of the drug and know how they personally affect you.
The side-effects of some common prescription drugs are described as follows:
- Antidepressants: if a sedative, it can cause impairment similar to drunk driving
- Valium: simply 10mg of this tranquilizer can equal an impairment mimicking that of having a blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) of .10 (it is illegal to be driving with a BAC of .08 or higher)
- Antihistamines: usually found in cold medicines, this prescription can slow reaction time and impair overall coordination
- Decongestants: these may cause drowsiness, anxiety, and dizziness
- Sleeping Pills: though taken at night, you may still groggy even in the morning and reaction times may be slower
- Hydrocodone: this prescription is similar to opiates and can cause significant impairments (similar effects in oxycodone as well)
An officer will stop you if he or she suspects you may be under the influence based on your erratic driving or the overall behavior you exhibit. In many cases, if there is a suspicion after initially engaging with you, the officer will request backup from a Drug Recognition Expert since there is not a simple breathalyzer test to detect drugs. If the Drug Recognition Expert performs some preliminary testing and suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, they will request that you submit to a blood or urine test.
If found to have traces of one of the drugs listed above, you may be charged with a DWI. For your first offense, the possible penalties include:
- $250 to $400 fine,
- Up to thirty days in jail,
- Three-month license suspension,
- Insurance surcharge of $1,000 for three years, and
- $100 to the Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation, and Enforcement Fund
If you have been charged with a DWI because you were taking a prescription drug, you may be able to fight it. There are many issues that could potentially clear you from the charge, including the fact that traces of certain medications can be found in your urine or blood test even days after you consumed the drug.
A DWI conviction can have severe consequences on your life. Seeking help from an experienced attorney will give you the best opportunity to get the charge dismissed. The Law Offices of Leon Matchin have the experience to defend you against the DWI charge and get back your clean record. Call today for a free consultation at (732) 662-7658.