As an Ocala area motorist, you are probably aware of how driving while under the influence of alcohol can lead to DUI charges. What you might not realize is how the use of prescription drugs can lead to criminal charges.

Many people do not realize that some prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines can impair their driving skills. It is not uncommon for individuals to use a combination of medications to manage their health conditions. If you currently take medication for a health condition or to ease the symptoms of allergies, you should consider how they can affect you and your driving performance before you get in the driver’s seat. 

Prescriptions drugs can alter driving abilities 

Many medications, such as tranquilizers, sleep aids, antidepressants and pain management drugs have side effects that can interfere with your ability to safely operate a vehicle. Motorists who drive impaired after using medications may seem like they are alcohol impaired with diminished cognitive abilities and slower reaction times. It is possible for some individuals who are driving while impaired to seem drowsy, drive recklessly, or pass out in their vehicles. The side effects are more severe when alcohol and other medications are combined. 

Driving while impaired by any substance is unlawful 

The law prohibits drivers from operating their vehicles while impaired. Impairment does not just apply to the use of alcohol, it also applies to substances like medications, store-bought drugs and illegal narcotics. 

Law enforcement uses DUI criteria to detect possible offenders 

Police officers look for motorists who drive erratically and ignore traffic laws. Once an officer suspects you are intoxicated, he or she can pull your vehicle over to determine if the suspicions are accurate. An officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests and to blow into a breath test device. If you fail the tests and have the appearance and behavior of someone under the influence, the officer might arrest you onsite. At the station, you would have to provide a urine or blood sample to determine the cause of impairment.

It is important for you to keep your prescriptions in the bottle the pharmacy dispenses them on your person. You should also refrain from operating any motor vehicles until you are sure that the side effects of any medicines you are taking do not affect your ability to drive safely and responsibly. If you find yourself facing a DUI charge for driving while under the influence of your meds, you should consider speaking with an attorney to learn defense options.

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