When you think about driving under the influence (DUI) laws in Pennsylvania, you may believe these laws simply apply to drunk drivers or drivers who use illegal drugs. However, police may also pull you over and arrest you for DUI if you’ve taken a prescription medication that impairs your ability to drive.
Many people are surprised to learn that the side effects of lawful prescription medication can also lead to a DUI arrest and charge. Many pharmaceuticals have serious side effects that can impair driving, including:
Many prescription medications warn users not to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery due to certain side effects. However, some users – especially new users – may underestimate the effects of the medication and believe they are fully capable of driving. If police observe any sign of impaired driving, such as swerving, driving too slowly or speeding, or simply driving erratically, they have probable cause for an arrest.
Common types of medications that may affect driving abilities include:
If you are prescribed any type of drug, be sure to review with your doctor whether the side effects may impair your driving. In addition, avoid driving after you first take the medication until you understand exactly how it will affect you. If you experience side effects that may make it dangerous to drive, try to arrange other transportation. If this is not practical, consider asking your doctor for another type of medication without these side effects, when available. Also remember that many prescription medications enhance the sedative effects of alcohol, such that your ability to drive may be impaired even after a relatively small amount.
If you feel side effects and choose to drive, never assume you are safe from arrest simply because you did not use alcohol or illegal drugs. Police officers may mistake your side effects for intoxication or may believe that you were impaired in violation of the law. Even if you pass a breathalyzer test, officers may still place you under arrest and charge you based on other signs that your ability to drive was impaired.
If you are charged with DUI, do not assume you can simply walk into court and get the case thrown out by explaining you only took your prescription medication. You still should have the assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney to ensure you do not face more serious consequences than necessary.
The Skinner Law Firm has defended clients against many types of DUI cases. As a former prosecutor, Michael J. Skinner understands the criminal justice system and can ensure that your rights are fully protected. We serve clients in Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, so please call 610-436-1410 or contact us online for more information today.