Millions of people living in Florida take drugs prescribed by their doctors every day. It’s a very normal part of everyday life, and for those who suffer medical conditions, their medications may be what helps everyday life feel normal to them.
The ubiquity of prescription drugs makes it easy to develop a false sense of security. We believe that taking them won’t land us into legal trouble as long as we have a doctor’s note saying we need them. That sense of security can shatter, though, if you are pulled over for driving under the influence.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
Most people only associated DUIs with alcohol, but “driving under the influence” can refer to any substance that may cause impairment. This means that taking drugs – legal or not, prescribed or not – and driving may lead to a DUI arrest.
You may have picked up on the magic word here – “impairment.” This is the condition that distinguishes driving on birth control versus driving on Percocet. Merely taking a prescription medication shouldn’t get you arrested for a DUI, but if that drug can impair your ability to drive, you might get put in cuffs.
Keep in mind that whether or not your medication is actually impairing your ability to drive doesn’t always matter. If you start to drift because you spaced out while thinking about your shopping list, the police are more inclined to believe your driving was affected by your medication.
Which Medications Can Cause Impairment?
As previously mentioned, not all prescription drugs cause impairment – but some do. The best way to protect yourself from a DUI arrest is to know if your medication can cause impairment and choose not to drive after taking it.
Medications that commonly lead to prescription drug DUIs include the following:
- Percocet, Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet (hydrocodone)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
If you take any of these medications, you should be mindful about doing so before driving or keeping them in your car.
Are the Penalties for a Prescription Drug DUI Different?
There is no difference. If you are convicted of a prescription drug DUI, the same penalties apply as they would in any other DUI case involving another kind of substance.
A first-time DUI conviction can come with any and all of following penalties:
- Up to six months in jail
- $500 to $1,000 fine
- At least 50 hours of community service
- Driver’s license suspension for 6 to 12 months
- Mandatory DUI school
- Impoundment of your vehicle for 10 days
More severe penalties can apply if this isn’t your first DUI conviction. In addition to these penalties, you will be required to disclose your DUI conviction on most job applications in Florida. This means that a conviction can have far-reaching consequences by affecting your career opportunities.
Do You Need Help Fighting a DUI?
Our attorney at Jonathan Blecher, P.A. knows that people can sometimes inadvertently find themselves facing serious DUI charges because of a medication they were taking. In many of these cases, the defendants were not even aware that they were at risk of a DUI arrest.
If this sounds similar to your situation, you need a DUI attorney who can help you fight your charges. Jonathan Blecher, P.A. has helped many pursue justice and get the legal help their defense needed to reach a better outcome.
If you’d like to learn more during a free case evaluation, contact us online to get started!