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Can you get a DUI for driving with legal drugs in your system?

On Behalf of | Jan 8, 2020 | drunk driving defense |

It is not an uncommon scenario: A Florida resident takes a Percocet or antidepressant or even cough medicine and gets behind the wheel of a vehicle. A cop pulls him or her over for erratic driving or an innocent error. Something about the driver’s appearance or behavior arouses the cop’s suspicion. The cop performs a field sobriety test and determines the driver is under the influence of something. He makes an arrest, and the state charges the driver with a DUI. If you face DUI charges for driving while on a prescription medication, you may wonder if such a charge is legitimate. In short, the answer is yes. 

According to FindLaw, the state may charge and convict you of a DUI for driving while on prescription or legal medications if said medications impair your driving in any way. A conviction may occur if the state can prove the existence of two elements. The first element the state must prove is that, at the time of arrest, you were driving along a public roadway. The second is that you were under the influence of one or more legal or controlled substances. The state can prove this if it can show that the medication affected your ability to safely operate the vehicle to an appreciable degree. 

Though it seems absurd that you can get a DUI for driving with a prescription or over-the-counter medication in your system, you may better understand the state’s stance by educating yourself on the effects of certain drugs. For instance, many prescription drugs impair motor skills, coordination, judgment and alertness. Some common side effects of medication include dizziness, fainting, drowsiness, nausea, blurred vision, slowed movement and the inability to focus. Each of these effects can increase a person’s risk for crashing.