Can you be charged with DUI while using legal prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs are common and many Gwinnett area residents are prescribed any number of legal drugs for a variety of ailments and conditions. However, drugs can have side-effects. This includes prescription drugs that are legally prescribed by a doctor or other medical professional. One must be aware of the potential side effects that prescription drugs could cause or it could result in consequences with the law.

This is because drugs can potentially affect a person's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Prescription drugs can have any number of side effects including drowsiness, impairment of hand-eye coordination and even slowed response time. While it may not be a driver's intent to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, this is how the law views it when a prescription drug impairs a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. One can be facing DUI charges after being apprehended for impaired driving.

If you are using a medication in which a potential side effect is impairment, theoretically, one should not be operating a vehicle while taking such medication. Under the law, alcohol isn't the only substance that could impair one's ability to drive safely. "Under the influence" means the driver's ability to safely operate the vehicle was affected to an appreciable degree by an alcoholic beverage, a drug or a combination of the two. By definition, legal drugs can be the cause of that impairment.

Ignorance is not a defense to DUI or drug charges, unfortunately. One needs to take responsibility for their body and decisions and that includes knowing the potential side effects when prescribed a prescription medication. Usually in cases where impairment is a known side effect when using a prescription drug, a doctor or pharmacist will make it clear to the user and/or it is written on the bottle.

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