Prescription Medication and DUI in Charleston

When it comes to driving under the influence, most people think of alcohol. But did you know that prescription medication can also impair your ability to drive safely? In South Carolina, you can easily be charged with a prescription medication DUI, as driving under the influence also applies to some types of meds.

So, before you get behind the wheel after taking your latest prescription, make sure you understand the risks. Let’s take a look at what medications can get you a DUI, how police test for impairment, and how a Charleston, South Carolina DUI lawyer can help if you’re facing charges.

What Are Considered Prescription Medications in Charleston, SC

When it comes to prescription medication DUIs in Charleston, South Carolina, the key thing to understand is that any drugs prescribed by a doctor are considered a prescription drug. However, not all prescription medications have the potential to cause impairment.

Medications that could potentially lead to a DUI are referred to as “controlled substances.” These are drugs that are regulated by law due to their potential for abuse or addiction. Controlled substances fall into two main categories:

  • Narcotics – Prescription opioid pain medications that depress the central nervous system and slow brain activity.
  • Depressants – Anti-anxiety medications and others that also slow down the brain and can cause drowsiness.

Prescriptions That Can Lead to a DUI in Charleston

The most common prescription medications that may lead to DUI charges for impaired driving in Charleston include pain medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. These medications can cause side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, and loss of concentration and coordination.

  • Sleep aids: Ambien, Lunesta, and other sleeping pills that cause drowsiness and impaired coordination and judgment. Taking them before driving makes accidents more likely.
  • Opioid pain relievers: OxyContin, Vicodin, and other narcotic painkillers that produce side effects like confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness. They slow your reaction time and ability to drive safely.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines. They relax but make you drowsy, uncoordinated, and forgetful – dangerous effects behind the wheel.
  • Antidepressants: Some depression meds like Zoloft can cause sleepiness or concentration problems, increasing crash risk. Combining them with other meds or alcohol multiplies the dangers.
  • Allergy and cold medicines: Antihistamines and decongestants found in many over-the-counter remedies can cause issues like blurred vision, dizziness, or slowed thinking that hamper your driving ability.

some prescription pills may show up on a DUI blood test

How The Government Makes a Prescription Medication DUI Case

To charge you with a prescription medication DUI, the officer who stops you must show that your ability to drive was impaired. They look for obvious signs like slurred speech, lack of balance, and poor coordination.

The key evidence is usually the arresting officer’s observations. They note your driving, how you perform on roadside tests, and your statements about medication. Your prescription bottles may be photographed or seized. You’ll likely be asked to take a blood or urine test to detect drugs in your system.

Refusing testing can negatively impact your case. Testing that finds prescription drugs may not automatically prove impairment, but it gives them evidence. An expert will compare your test results, driving, and performance to determine if the drugs impaired your ability.

Reach Out to An Experienced Charleston DUI Lawyer

When you’re arrested for DUI while on prescription meds, your next call should be to an experienced Charleston DUI defense lawyer. An attorney can help protect your rights and advocate for you every step of the way.

Prescription medication DUI charges can be beaten when there is a valid prescription, and the meds were taken as directed. A skilled lawyer will thoroughly investigate and build the best defense so as to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

Call us at (843) 277-8711 for a free case review. Don’t go it alone – make that call today, and let us give you the best fighting chance.