Can You Get A DUI For Driving Under The Influence OF Perscription Drugs?
Yes. Driving while impaired is always illegal. Doctor’s orders or not, Washington State drivers are never allowed to operate a vehicle with any impairing drug in their system. If a driver is pulled over and their BAC shows more than 0.08% or they display signs of being impaired due to prescription medication, they will be issued a DUI.
Even though the driver has a medical condition that makes it necessary to take prescription medication it is still up to the driver to be responsible and refrain from driving while impaired.
DUI laws apply to all substances that cause impairment, prescription or not. While many drivers think that since they have a doctor’s note this will somehow help them defend against DUI charges, they are sadly mistaken. Even if it is an over the counter, legal drug you will still be charged with a DUI if it impairs you to the point of affecting your driving.
Your charge will depend entirely on whether you have consumed enough of the drug to be considered intoxicated by state law.
What Is Considered Impaired In Washington?
A driver is considered under the influence (impaired) if they have ingested any substance — prescription or not — that is affecting their ability to drive. While of course the drug itself and how it is being used matters, a doctor’s prescription will do little in the way of stopping the officer from giving a DUI.
What Are Washington State Laws On Perscription Drugs & Driving?
There are only a few states that will not charge drivers with a DUI if they can prove that the drug they were impaired by was prescribed by a doctor. This is definitely the exception and not the norm though.
Washington State takes driving while impaired very seriously and more often than not law enforcement officers won’t think twice about giving a DUI to an impaired driver — doctor’s note or not. Doctor’s orders are not considered a defense against DUI charges, so drivers should never think that their prescription will aid them in getting DUI charges lifted.
Prescription Drugs That Could Earn You A DUI
- Sleeping pills: these are used for the purpose of falling asleep and can leave dangerous effects for drivers even the morning after they are used.
- Tranquilizers: Valium, a popular tranquilizing drug can greatly affect one’s ability to drive. Even a minute amount can cause significant impairment and put drivers over the legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC.
- Antidepressants: many antidepressants have a sedating property that causes drivers to react slowly to situations — a very dangerous thing when driving.
- Pain relievers: a popular pain relief medication, Hydrocodone can cause impairment levels similar to that of morphine and codeine for drivers.
- Antihistamines: these cause a loss of coordination for drivers and impair their reaction time to situations.
As you can see, there are numerous prescription drugs that cause equally dangerous levels of impairment for drivers to drunk driving. Because of the danger of driving while under the influence of any substance, drivers pulled over while driving impaired due to one of these substances will still face DUI charges.
What About Medical Marijuana?
Both medical and recreational marijuana is legal in Washington State. This presents the question of what consequences a driver may face as a result of driving under the influence of medical marijuana.
In a case where a driver is pulled over for impaired driving under the influence of medical marijuana, the driver will face the same legal repercussions that any other driver would who has driven while impaired due to prescription medication.
What To Do If You Are Facing DUI Charges For Driving Under The Influence Of Prescription Drugs
Driving while impaired due to prescription drugs is legally considered the same as driving while drunk. It puts the driver as well as all other drivers on the road at risk and is viewed as a serious matter by law enforcement and courts.
The unfortunate truth is that many drivers are unaware of the level of effect that a prescription drug will have over them until it’s too late and they are facing full-blown DUI charges.
If this is you, don’t wait to find a seasoned DUI attorney to help you with your charges. In tandem with your written prescription, a good DUI attorney will be able to help the court see that you are not deserving of lasting repercussions for being misinformed about the laws regarding prescription medication and driving.
If you are facing DUI charges due to driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, reach out to a DUI defense attorney today.
Find A DUI Attorney Near You
Matthew Leyba, of Leyba Defense, is a Seattle based DUI defense attorney. He has the experience and insight necessary to help you with your DUI charges.
If you would like to begin building your DUI defense today, contact Matthew Leyba to schedule your first consultation.
Matthew Leyba offers a free consultation for all first time clients who are looking to take control of their legal situation so give Leba Defense a contact us today to schedule your first appointment.