Prescription Medications Can Lead to a DUI Arrest

Did you know that you can be arrested and convicted of driving while under the influence of intoxicants for driving after taking prescription drugs? Do you know that following the doctors directions is not a defense to the criminal charge? Many people have never really thought about this matter, or they erroneously assume that they cannot get in trouble with prescription medications, as long as they follow their doctor’s instructions. This is not true under the DUI law in Oregon. Any prescription drug that is a controlled substance, and many are, can lead to a DUI arrest.

When most people imagine a DUI driver, they think of someone leaving a bar late at night after having had too many drinks, and then recklessly driving home. Most people are aware that using illegal drugs, such as smoking marijuana or using cocaine, can also lead to impaired driving arrest.

But few imagine a DUII arrest from this scenario: A professional woman, a mother of two children getting ready for work one morning. The previous night, she took her usual antidepressant medication as well as a pill for hay fever allergies. Both pills cause drowsiness so she took them before bed. That morning, she has a severe headache, so she takes a couple of prescription pills, which can cause drowsiness — and contains the generic warning that one should not operate a vehicle or other machinery after taking them. She kisses her children goodbye before leaving for work. She gets in her car and starts driving, fails to notice another car at a four-way stop, and collides with the other vehicle.

The accident is minor, but the police are called to the scene to make a report. When the police officer arrives the woman apologizes profusely, saying, “I’ve never had any driving trouble before, I‘m sorry about this — it must be all this medication I’m on.” Unfortunately for the woman, her children and family, she likely has just admitted to a DUI, if any of those medications were controlled substances. And, a great many prescription medications are legally considered to be controlled substances.

Some common examples of legal by prescription controlled substances are: Xanax, Valium, Librium, Klonopin, Ambien, diazepam, alaprazolam, Ritalin, Concerta, Percocet, Percodan, Adderall, Dexedrine, Hydrocodone, medical marijuana, codeine, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Vicodin, and Tylenol 3. The list of controlled substance prescription medications is very large. Many people would be surprised to learn that the medications they are taking for anxiety, pain and a wide variety of other health concerns are indeed controlled substances that could land them in trouble for a DUI, the same as if they were using illegal street drugs and driving.

If you have been charged with a prescription drug DUI, you should “lawyer up” immediately. [To “lawyer up” means to not say anything more without a defense lawyer and to have your lawyer speak and act for you.] Anything and everything you say to the police or in front of the prosecutor can and will be used against you in court.

There are many technical and surprising ways a skilled defense lawyer, such as Attorney Bart Herron, can defend a prescription drugs DUI case. The sooner you get expert DUI lawyers on your side, the better will be the likely outcome of your case.