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Can You Get a DUI From Prescription Drugs?

August 11, 2020

Most people know that DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence,” but did you know that includes the influence of legal drugs too? A DUI includes drugs prescribed by physicians as well as alcohol and illicit drugs. Even if you are taking over-the-counter drugs, or drugs that are prescribed to you, you may still be charged with a DUI and face the same fines and jail-time. 

What Does a DUI Mean? 

In order to get a DUI you have to have been driving on a public roadway (or in physical control of the vehicle) and under the influence of alcohol or legal or illegal drugs. According to this definition you can get a DUI from over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well as alcohol.  

Although many people believe that a DUI is only based on a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) this is actually not true. If your driving is impaired in any way you can still be charged with a DUI if you are using any kind medication. Oftentimes, prescription drugs have side effects that may impair your ability to drive.

How Do Legal Drugs Impair Driving?

There are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs that include side effects which may impair driving. Even if you are taking the prescribed dosage many medications have side effects that can impair your coordination and motor functioning. Some of these side effects include: 

  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea 
  • Sleepiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Blurred Vision 
  • Fainting 
  • Slowed Movement 

Side effects can be dangerous to drivers as they may cause slower reaction times and possibly even a car accident. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns drivers of the dangers of driving while on certain drugs like antihistamines. It is important to consult with your doctor about any medications you are taking and their possible side effects. 

Are the Penalties the Same for Legal Drugs and Alcohol?

The penalties for legal drugs and alcohol are the same. In New Jersey a first time DUI charge includes: 

  • Minimum jail time of 12 hours, up to 30 days. 
  • Fines between $250-400
  • An annual automobile insurance surcharge of $1,000 for three years 
  • Other fees and surcharges in excess of $525

A penalty might be more harsh if there are other aggravating factors such as being caught with other illegal drugs in your vehicle. A second time DUI charge in New Jersey includes:

  • 30 days of community service
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • License suspension for two years
  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • 12-48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • A monetary fine up to a $1,000 but no less than $500
  • $3,000 in insurance surcharges over a three year period

Finally, the penalties for a third degree DUI charge include:

  • A monetary fine of up to $1,000
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device
  • License suspension for 10 years
  • 90 days (maximum) of community service
  • 12-48 hours in an Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
  • 180 days behind bars
  • $4,500 in insurance surcharges that are spread out throughout a three year period

Contact an Experienced Moorestown DWI Defense Attorney About Your Drunk Driving Charges in New Jersey

Have you been charged with a DWI or DUI offense in New Jersey? A drunk driving conviction could leave you with a permanent record, and it could result in your driver’s license being suspended for a very long time. That is why it is imperative that you speak with a qualified DWI defense lawyer about your case. The Law Offices of Michele Finizio represents clients charged with drunk driving, breath test refusal, and related offenses in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel,Camden, Cherry Hill and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out our confidential online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office located at 9 E. Main St, Moorestown, NJ 08057, in addition to offices located in Cherry Hill.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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