Prescription Medication And DUIs: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 6 September 2016

When an individual is dealing with chronic pain or some other condition, it's not uncommon for a physician to prescribe a high-level medication to them for treatment. While the medication is helpful, if not used properly, it could actually lead to lengthy consequences. You know firsthand the truth behind this statement if you have been charged with DUI while under the influence of your prescription medication.

Driving And Prescription Medications

Many people are surprised to discover that many high-level prescription medications used to treat certain mental conditions and intense pain have little difference from street-level narcotics when it comes to their active ingredients. Consequently, in the same manner that these street-level drugs can impair your judgment and focus, so can certain prescription medications.

For example, while driving, Percocet can make it more challenging to stay within your lane, delay your reaction times and even cause you to become confused. To an unsuspecting law enforcement official in the area, all of these signs are perceived as impairment, causing them to pull you over and further investigate the issue.

The Problem

You are within your legal rights to take any medication prescribed to you by a licensed physician; however, you are also legally required to use the prescription appropriately. All of these high-level medications provide detailed and clear instruction concerning the side-effects of the medication and a strong mandate to avoid driving while using them.

When you ignore this rule and you get behind the wheel, although you were taking the medication with a legal prescription, your decision to ignore the physician's recommendation is considered a violation of the law and is the reason you are facing a charge of DUI.


Unlike some charges that have mandatory minimums, the punishment for a first-time DUI offense for a legal prescription is highly subjective. For this reason, it's hard to say exactly what type of punishment a defendant faces. In some cases, if the individual is able to provide documentation that the prescription is legal along with an extenuating reason why they were driving, such as an emergency, the charge may be dropped.

However, if the individual's impairment leads to any property damage, physical injuries, or another grossly negligent consequence, they could be looking at a misdemeanor charge that comes along with community service, fines, temporary license suspension, and, in extreme cases, jail time.

The best way to avoid this type of problem is to avoid driving when using your medication. However, if you have found yourself in this unfortunate situation, a DUI attorney can help.