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Daytona Beach Lawyers > Blog > Criminal Law > Prescription Drugs and DUI

Prescription Drugs and DUI


Some people have a misconception that they cannot be arrested and charged for driving under the influence if their prescription drugs are to blame. They assume that because they have a prescription this somehow gives them license to drive, even if the medication impairs their abilities.

Actually, under Florida law, you can receive a DUI if your prescription medication makes it difficult for you to operate your vehicle safely. If you’ve been arrested, please contact a Daytona Beach criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

What Does Florida’s DUI Statute Say?

Florida’s statute is at § 316.193. It states that it is a crime to be under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or another drug to such an extent that your normal faculties are impaired. The fact that you have a valid prescription does not exempt you from being impaired under the statute.

If you are convicted, you can face:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • Up to 6 months in jail

If you are convicted a second time, you can face up to $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

How Prescription Drugs Can Impair Driving

Whenever you get a prescription, you should read the side effect listed. Perhaps the most dangerous side effect is drowsiness, which can be caused by a slew of different prescriptions:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Valium
  • Anti-anxiety medication

Many over-the-counter drugs can also cause drowsiness, such as Benadryl or even common cold medication. If you are unable to safely operate your vehicle because of the prescription or OTC medication, then you can be prosecuted for DUI.

Protecting Yourself

Carefully go over the side effects for every medication you have been prescribed. It is also vital that you understand how drugs can act in combination. One prescription might be fine alone, but two could have side effects when combined. Always talk to your pharmacist or physician to gain a handle on whether a prescription drug can impair you.

Defending These Cases

A DUI case based on prescription drugs presents certain challenges for the prosecutor. For one thing, there are few reliable tests for finding out what drug is in your system. With alcohol, an officer an administer a breathalyzer or other chemical test, but it is hard to detect the presence of certain prescription medications unless the police perform a blood test.

If our client does not admit to taking prescription drugs, then the officer must use other evidence. Perhaps you have the drugs in the car with you, or maybe a passenger saw you take them. Many officers are trained as Drug Recognition Experts, but their testimony is not as “open and shut” as scoring a certain BAC on a breathalyzer.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, please contact Bundza & Rodriguez today. One of our Daytona Beach DUI lawyers will meet with you to go over details of your case. There is no reason to delay, and the sooner we can begin, the more options we have for your defense.

If you would like to discuss your case, please call 386-252-5170.


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