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Tennessee DUIs and Your Prescription Medications

Posted on in DUI/DWI

Knoxville DUI defense attorneyBeing legally entitled to possess and use a controlled substance that a doctor has given you a prescription for does not mean that you are allowed to drive after taking it. Many prescription drugs can cause impairment that affects a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely just as much as alcohol can. Medications like strong narcotic painkillers, anxiety medications, and even lighter medications like muscle relaxers or sleeping pills can change a person's level of alertness and coordination. Unfortunately, people can and often do get arrested and charged with a DUI for driving while affected by their medications. If you have been charged with DUI after using your prescription medication, it is important to work with a skilled DUI lawyer who can help you fight back. 

What Prescription Drugs Could Lead to a DUI?

Prescription drug DUIs can be complicated. While a drunk person’s BAC can show exactly how intoxicated they are, there is no such test easily available to measure a person’s level of intoxication when there is a different substance working. Tests will typically only show whether you have taken a substance in the recent past, not whether you are actively intoxicated. Much of the evidence in these cases is based on the police officer’s subjective observations. 

Some prescription drugs that you could get a DUI after taking include: 

  • Opiate pain medicine - Narcotic pain medications include oxycodone, fentanyl, Dilaudid, tramadol, and morphine. Even if you take these medications regularly and have a high tolerance, you could still land in legal trouble for driving after taking them. 
  • Benzodiazepines - This class of drug is commonly used to treat anxiety, seizures, and in some cases, muscle spasms. Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin are all types of benzodiazepines. A lot of people take these medications on a daily basis. Those who take these medications less frequently are more likely to be significantly impaired after use. 
  • Sleeping medications - Insomnia and other sleep disorders are often treated with medications designed to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. Trazadone, Ambien, and Lunesta are common types of sleep-inducing medications. However, being nearly asleep while driving can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, sleeping pill-induced DUIs are often issued after an accident has occurred. 
  • Muscle relaxers - Most people do not think of muscle relaxers as intoxicating drugs. Doctors will often offer muscle relaxers for everything from back pain to routine aches and pains. However, some people are more affected by these drugs than others, and should not drive after use. 

No one thinks that they are going to get in legal trouble for using their own prescription medications as directed, but it does happen. An attorney can help you fight back and potentially avoid getting stuck with a criminal record. 

Contact a Knox County DUI Lawyer

The Law Office of William F. Evans is skilled at fighting back against DUI charges involving prescription medications. Our experienced Knoxville DUI attorneys will strive to protect you against potentially harsh consequences. Call 423-449-7980 for a free consultation. 



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