Most people take prescription medications from time to time. An individual recovering from surgery may take prescription pain medicine. Someone with an anxiety disorder may take anti-anxiety medication. When a doctor prescribes a medication to a patient, the doctor is essentially giving the patient authorization to take the medication. Many people are shocked to learn that they can face criminal charges for driving under the influence (DUI) for taking medicine that was lawfully prescribed to them. DUI involving prescription medication can lead to driver’s license suspension or revocation, expensive fines, or even jail time.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Medication
The term “driving under the influence” is often used synonymously with drunk driving. However, alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to DUI charges.
Illinois law states that a person may be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of:
- Any intoxicating compound to a degree that makes the individual incapable of driving safely
- Any other drug to a degree that makes the individual incapable of driving safely
If the police believe that you are too intoxicated by medication to drive responsibly, you can be charged with DUI. It does not matter if you have a prescription for the medication. However, if you do not have a valid prescription for medication found in your possession you could potentially face drug charges in addition to DUI charges.
Often, DUI charges involving prescription medication result from the combination of alcohol and medication. Some medicines have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness that are heightened by alcohol. These side effects can make it very difficult if not impossible to pass a field sobriety test.
Medications that Can Lead to DUI Charges
Any drug or intoxicating compound can lead to DUI charges according to Illinois law. Some of the most common prescription medications involved in DUI cases include:
- Psychiatric medications – Individuals with anxiety disorders or other mental health issues may take benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan. Driving under the influence of these medications can lead to DUI charges.
- Pain relievers – Codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol can result in DUI charges even if you were prescribed the medication and took the medication according to your doctor’s orders.
- Sleeping pills – Individuals suffering from insomnia should know that sleep aids like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata, can potentially lead to DUI charges.
- ADD and ADHD medication – If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or attention deficit disorder, you may take Adderall or Ritalin. Driving after taking these medications may result in criminal charges for driving under the influence.
Contact an Oakbrook Terrace DUI Lawyer
If you or a loved one were charged with DUI because you took a prescription medication, contact Hartsfield Law for help. Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Kendall D. Hartsfield can help you defend yourself. Call 312-345-1700 for a free consultation.