When most people think of DUIs, they often think of driving under the influence of alcohol. And while most DUIs are commonly associated with drunk driving, Florida law also recognizes the offense of driving under the influence of drugs.
In fact, many people are surprised to learn that Florida law permits a DUI arrest where the officer has probable cause to believe you are impaired by a ‘controlled substance,’ such as many types of prescription medication, over-the-counter medications and – of course – illegal drugs such as marijuana or cocaine.
A common misconception is that a valid prescription for a medication provides a defense for driving under the influence of that medication – but such is not the case. A prescription simply allows you to own, use, or possess the medication but does not give you the right to drive after having taken the medication if it can impair your driving.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 10 million Americans drive under the influence of illegal drugs – with 47 percent of drivers involved in deadly crashes testing positive for a prescription drug.
Because even drugs legally purchased at a pharmacy, whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), can be just as – if not more – dangerous for motorists as alcohol as they can impair judgment, concentration and motor skills.
Below are some common prescription and OTC medications that can impair your driving:
- Sleeping Pills
- Medical Marijuana
So what can you do? First, be sure to read all the sections of the label before you use any medication, including the active ingredients to compare them to all the other medicines you are using to be sure you are not taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Then, be sure to carefully read the entire ‘Warnings’ section to see if the medicine should not be used with any condition you have, if you need to first speak with a healthcare professional about taking it, and when you should stop using it.
The label should also tell you how the medicine might make you feel, including warnings about drowsiness, impaired driving or operating machinery. The label should also explain how the medicine may react when taken with other products like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers.
And lastly, if you’re ever in doubt, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any further questions or need help finding another medicine to treat your condition or problem.
The consequences of a DUI offense can be severe and have a direct personal and professional impact on your life. If you or someone you know has been charged with a medication-related DUI, let the experienced Tampa DUI attorneys at Anton Castro Law help.