Prescription Medication & DUIs

Per South Carolina’s Code of Laws, “It is unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle…under the influence of any other drug or a combination of other drugs or substances which cause impairment.” This is in addition to consuming alcohol to the extent that it impairs your faculties and hinders your ability to operate a motor vehicle. 

That said, you need to understand that you can be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of medication prescribed to you. Many people may be unaware of this, and that may be because they assume that the word “drug” implies something illegal. For that reason, people may put themselves behind the wheel of a car after taking legally prescribed medication. 

An Unexpected DUI

Don’t get caught off guard. Having a prescription for a medication doesn’t mean it is legal to drive under the influence of it. When your doctor prescribes it to you, you should ask them whether it will inhibit your ability to drive. 

From a legal standpoint, we also want to point out that if you are charged with a DUI because you were driving under the influence of prescription medication, you need to reach out and speak with a criminal defense attorney. A charge does not equate to guilt. To highlight this fact, there is no device like a breathalyzer to determine how intoxicated you are because of the medication. You will be brought to the hospital for a urine test after you have been detained. That test gets sent to a lab in Columbia, SC, where they have a forensic toxicologist. The results of which may not come back for six months. 

Common Defenses 

One of the things your attorney looks at is why the police pulled you over. 

  • Was there evidence of impaired driving?
  • Did you run off the side of the road?
  • Did you cross the centerline?

If you took a field sobriety test (which will likely happen), how did you perform on it? In the past, we wrote a piece about how objective a field sobriety test is. There are points of performance and evaluation, and they need to be adhered to. 

Another critical element is to find out why you were on the medication. Did your underlying condition impact your performance on the field sobriety test, or was it the drugs themselves? Before the test is conducted, the police are supposed to ask you whether you have any medical conditions. Was that question asked? For instance, if you have a bad knee and are on pain medication, your knee may have hindered your ability to pass the field sobriety test. 

Speak With a DUI Defense Attorney 

A DUI is a serious offense, and you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to represent you. You need someone by your side right now, and we are ready to fight for you. Contact Cate & Brough, P.A.. to schedule a consultation.

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Cate & Brough, P.A.

At Cate & Brough, we all have personal experience with family law and family court. We know more than just what the law says about your issue – we know what you are going through.

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