Can taking prescription drugs lead to a DUI?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Firm News

Should a driver’s blood or breath alcohol level exceed the legal limit during testing, they can face charges for operating a motor vehicle under the influence (DUI) in Mississippi. A driver exhibiting intoxication due to a controlled substance may also face DUI charges.

But did you know that even prescription medication can trigger a DUI?

Prescriptions with impairing side effects

There are several legal medications that, as a side effect, can impair a person’s ability to think, move and react. The following prescription drugs can cause impairment:

  • Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants, such as Prozac and Zoloft, can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired judgment.
  • Antihistamines: Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, can also cause sleepiness and lightheadedness. They can also impair decision-making.
  • Benzodiazepines: These drugs, such as Xanax and Valium, can cause the same side effects of drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired judgment.
  • Muscle relaxants: The same side effects also manifest when a person takes these drugs, such as carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine.
  • Opioids: Painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone not only cause drowsiness but can also slow a person’s reaction times and cause confusion.

Certain drugs may also cause drowsiness and lightheadedness when taken together with an alcoholic beverage. Some drugs even make a driver feel the intoxicating effects of alcohol much sooner.

The penalties for prescription drug-based DUI

Whether it’s due to impairing prescription drugs or alcohol, a person faces the same DUI charges and penalties.

For a first-offense DUI conviction, a person faces up to 48 hours of confinement in jail and $1,000 in fines. If the offender was found to have consumed alcohol together with their impairing medication, a court may order them to attend an alcohol safety education program. The court may also require the driver to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle.

Yes, prescription drugs can lead to DUIs, especially if they negatively impact your ability to control your vehicle. In the event you face charges for taking medication, consider having a legal professional by your side. An attorney can protect your rights in court and help build your defense.

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