Prescription medication may help an individual fall asleep at night, overcome problems with allergies or solve a whole host of other medical issues. However, it may cause a person to become drowsy or otherwise impaired after taking it. Therefore, it is not recommended that individuals drive or operate heavy machinery in the moments or hours after doing so. If you are caught with medication in your system after an accident or traffic stop, you could be charged with a DUI.
Impaired Driving Is Impaired Driving No Matter the Substance Used
The law doesn’t care what substance that you were on when pulled over or after being involved in a traffic accident. While some states or jurisdictions do have separate charges for driving under the influence of alcohol, the penalties are largely the same. This means that you could go to jail, lose your license or even lose your job even if the medication was prescribed to you and taken properly.
Additional Penalties May Apply If the Medication Isn’t Yours
Additional penalties may be imposed on those who take prescription medication that does not belong to them. In fact, you could face additional charges if you use medication that does not have a valid label on it. For instance, an officer could charge you with transporting or trafficking a controlled substance if pills were found in a baggy or unmarked container.
What If the Medication Was Labeled Incorrectly?
One possible defense against a drug DUI charge would be that your medication was not labeled properly. Therefore, it is possible that the error caused you to take the wrong medication before driving or caused you to take more than you were supposed to. It could also be possible that the effects of the improper medication that you took were enhanced by drinking alcohol or a lack of sleep.
If successful, it may be possible to earn an acquittal or a plea deal assuming that you were otherwise obeying the law when you were found by police. However, it is still likely that you would be taken into custody and booked in jail until you were sober enough to go through processing.
You Are Responsible for What Goes Into Your Body
Ultimately, you are responsible for what you put into your body. Therefore, if you knew what you were taking and decided to drive after medicating yourself, you may be acting in a negligent manner. This is generally true even if you never intended to cause an accident or damage to another person, animal or someone else’s property. In some cases, you may be taken into custody even if there is no accident or property damage.
You Are Responsible for Taking Corrective Action Behind the Wheel
In the event that you feel yourself falling asleep or otherwise unable to concentrate on the road ahead of you, it is important to pull over as soon as possible. Failure to do so could make you responsible for any damage that you cause. In most cases, this is true even if you were given the wrong medication by a doctor or didn’t know that you had put something in your body that could cause impairment.
The Police Will Make a Determination Based on Your Actions at the Scene
In many cases, police officers will determine whether or not to take someone into custody based on their actions. For instance, if an officer sees you driving erratically, going above the speed limit or not responding to traffic lights or other signals in a timely manner, that could lead to an arrest. If you have trouble standing or speaking to an officer, that too could be enough to lead to an arrest.
If a police officer makes contact with you after witnessing erratic behavior, there is a chance that you could be taken into custody for DUI. In the event that you are charged with a crime, make sure to talk with an attorney right away. Doing so may increase your odds of obtaining a plea deal or an acquittal in your case. Those who are acquitted may then have the opportunity to have the charged sealed from public record.