Even if you haven’t had any alcohol, being pulled over for driving while intoxicated can be alarming. When we think of DUI charges, we usually think of driving while intoxicated. However, reports have come out stating that 43.6 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs, with more than half of those drivers testing positive for two or more substances.
However, can you be charged with a DUI if you drive while on properly authorized medication?
Charges of Impairment
To be charged with a DUI, the motorist must be both:
- Driving or operating a vehicle
- Inebriated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
These conditions result in two sorts of DUI charges: per se and impairment. It’s critical to grasp the distinction between the two offenses to comprehend why some medicines might result in a DUI arrest although being lawfully prescribed to you.
Impairment DUI Charge
Operating a car while inebriated or under the influence is unlawful. Every state’s laws define “under the influence” to include more than just alcohol and illicit drugs; it also includes any chemical that might impair a motorist, including prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
To put it another way, if a police officer has cause to think a person is driving while impaired mentally or physically, they can provide a drug test or even a field sobriety test. A driver’s poor performance on a field sobriety test is frequently cited as proof of impairment.
Even if a driver’s drug tests come up negative, the courts might still punish them with a DUI if they are obviously impaired.
When this happens, respectfully reject a field sobriety test and request a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test instead, because field sobriety tests include several flaws.
Because the officer giving the test relies on their judgment, field sobriety tests are subjective. That implies you may pass one officer’s exam while failing another’s. Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. Even when you’re sober, common drugs in your medicine cabinet might lead you to fail a field sobriety test. In reality, a field sobriety test research found that more than a third of all drivers who fail their sobriety tests are sober at the time of the test.
What are the Methods for Determining and Proving Impairment?
There are several reasons a law enforcement officer can instigate a stop. According to a 2015 research on driving after consuming marijuana, THC in marijuana impairs a driver’s ability to multitask, which is a crucial skill behind the wheel. These effects are commonly paralleled in prescription medication.
Because an impairment DUI does not rely simply on blood concentration tests, the standards for demonstrating impairment usually include a field sobriety test or other tell-tale indicators of drunkenness, such as:
- Driving erratically
- Unusual actions
- Speech that is slurred or sluggish
- Eyes that are red, glazed, or drooping
- Inability to concentrate or retain information
Some of the elements listed above are also included in standard field sobriety tests.
Regardless of the degree to which a motorist must be impaired, one thing is universal. All jurisdictions consider impairment to constitute driving under the influence, whether induced by an illegal or legal substance.
When You Fail a Sobriety Test Due to Medications
Medications can have a significant influence on our bodies and can have unforeseen side effects. Drowsiness, lack of coordination or balance, and trouble focusing are some of the possible adverse effects. These negative effects can make driving a car more complicated, and you may fail a field sobriety test as a result.
Three key tests make up the field sobriety test:
- The one-legged stand test
- Test for horizontal gaze nystagmus
- Test your ability to walk and turn
Prescription and over-the-counter medications might cause you to lose your balance, move uncoordinatedly, or have trouble obeying the officer’s commands. Even if you’re sober, this, along with the worry of getting pulled over for drunk driving, might lead you to flunk your sobriety test.
The following are some of the most popular medicines that might result in a failed field sobriety or breathalyzer test:
- Medications for cough
- NyQuil and other cold and flu medicines
- Albuterol is a drug that is used to treat asthma (medication found in inhalers)
- Painkillers on prescription
- Medications that relax muscles
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- ADD/ADHD medications
- Sleeping pills
In addition to medicines, you may fail your field sobriety test if you have some medical issues. These are some of the medical conditions:
- Lazy eye
- Injuries to the brain
- Problems with the inner ear
- Impediments to hearing or speaking
- Injuries to the bones or joints
Have You Been Arrested in Athens, GA for a DUI?
Our Athens DUI defense lawyers understand that various medicines and medical conditions might play a role in your DUI arrest. It’s vital to know that you can dispute the accusations if you feel your medicine or medical condition contributed to your DUI arrest. It will be more challenging to fight DUI accusations if you fail a field sobriety test. You can, however, overcome your DUI if you have a competent attorney on your side. Call us at (706) 715-5137 or use our secure online contact form. We’re ready to defend you.