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Can you legally drive while on medication?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2022 | DUI Defense

When driving while impaired (DWI) comes under discussion, people often focus solely on the alcohol aspect of the offense. It’s important to note that DWI charges in North Carolina apply to alcohol, controlled substances as well as prescribed medications.

The penalties for DWI convictions, regardless of the substance, can be severe and may impact life greatly both at home and in the workplace. Thus, it is worth gaining as clear an understanding as possible of the law in this area.

Just because the medication you are taking is legal doesn’t necessarily mean that it is legal for you to drive.

Common medications

Various medications can be prescribed to tackle a wide range of ailments. Some of the more common medications that might improve a person’s condition, but impair their ability to drive, include Vicodin, Codeine, Fentanyl and Adderall.

Building your defense

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of DWI, law enforcement will subject you to questions and possibly chemical tests. A field sobriety test will give the officer an indication of how your cognitive and motor functions have been impacted and chemical tests will help to clarify their suspicions about what you have taken.

Importantly, such tests are not always accurate. It is up to the prosecution to prove that you were under the influence of drugs at the time that you were driving and subsequently pulled over. This is not an easy demand to satisfy. Many drugs can stay in the system for several days, which makes it hard to establish whether or not you were under the influence at the time of driving. Additionally, field sobriety tests and chemical Breathalyzers are not foolproof. Where protocol is not followed with these tests, inaccurate results can be obtained, which are not admissible in court.

Defending DWI charges is vital for both your freedom and reputation. As you take your next steps, make sure you have adequate legal knowledge behind you.