Stacey M. Washington, Attorney and CounselorAttorney and Counselor
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How prescription drugs can lead to a DUI

When you are out on the road, you need to be responsible for your safety and for the safety of the motorists around you. That is the spirit and intent behind DUI laws in most states, but despite that goal, the laws have some practical problems that lead to situations where people can be charged without realizing they were acting illegally. It can also result in people believing they are fine and facing charges they should not encounter because of the problems with the resources that law enforcement has to detect impairment and to make judgments.

This is especially true in Michigan, where the DUI statute covers not only driving under the influence of alcohol, but also drugged driving. The result is that the statute is broad enough that a number of prescription drugs may fall under the prohibition, even when they are used in compliance with a treatment plan, and regardless of the actual level of impairment they cause. Even in cases where the prescription drugs themselves do not lead directly to the DUI charge, some drugs can affect the readings on breath tests, leading to more problems as people who are sober and able to drive find themselves in a potentially compromising position.

What to do if you drive and use prescription drugs

First and foremost, know your body. The window of time when most prescriptions will post a driving risk is generally fairly small, so if you manage your dosage carefully, you should be able to steer it around times you need to drive. If that is not possible, then you will also want to find other forms of transportation. While you are on prescription drugs, it is also a good idea to steer clear of alcohol as much as possible if you may be driving. That way, you also know that you will not have to worry about chemical interactions. When you do that, you will be able to:

  • Reduce the pretexts for pulling you over.
  • Ensure you are not responsible for the vehicle when you are pulled over.
  • Eliminate the chances of being falsely tested positive.

If you are charged with a DUI because of your prescription drugs

Contact an attorney immediately. There are a variety of prescription drugs that do not cause impairment on their own but still distort field sobriety tests in ways that can lead to a charge you do not deserve. These include diabetes drugs and several other forms of life-saving medication, and an attorney with experience fighting DUI charges will know how to present your case.

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