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Can I be arrested for driving after taking a prescription?

Most people think about drinking and driving when the topic of DUI charges comes up. Similarly, a previously illegal drug like marijuana or other illicit drugs may come to mind when you hear about drug charges. However, you and other Californians should know that you might get a DUI or a ticket for driving after taking legal medication.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that some over-the-counter medications and many prescription drugs can negatively affect your driving. The most common culprits include narcotic painkillers, antihistamines, sleeping pills and drugs to treat depression and anxiety. Medications for serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, may also impact your driving ability.

How can a medication affect my driving, you might wonder? Medications can have different reactions in different people. What makes you sleepy might make another person jittery, or a drug that has no noticeable side effects for someone else could affect your concentration or reaction time. If you combine a medication with alcohol or another drug, you could have unforeseen, pronounced and dangerous side effects, such as seizures or fainting, which would be disastrous if you are behind the wheel.

An officer who has reason to believe that your driving was impaired while you had a prescription drug in your system may charge you with a DUI. You may wish to seek legal counsel to protect your rights. The information here is meant to educate you but should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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