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Driving under the influence of ... prescription medication?

Americans rely on prescription medication for countless reasons from controlling a deadly heart condition to managing pain relief after a major surgery. The strength and side-effects of these medications have reached the point where they can alter perceptions or dull reflexes. Unfortunately, these side-effects can become dangerous for those who get behind the wheel of a car - and law enforcement is cracking down.

Many people take the phrase "driving under the influence of drugs" to specifically mean things like marijuana, cocaine or heroin. In this context, however, drugs can also refer to prescription medication. A common category of prescription medications is opioids - designed specifically for pain relief. Opioids are a class of pain killer that are often associated with severe feelings of euphoria or a deeply relaxed state. Opioids can include:

  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • OxyContin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine

These pain relievers can also cause users to feel drowsy, confused, nauseated or euphoric. Any of these scenarios can make it challenging for a driver to properly operate a motor vehicle.

Of course, the officer must have a legitimate reason for stopping a vehicle - but a driver could face stiff penalties if he or she is found to be operating the car in an impaired state. A driver could face:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Community service
  • Loss of driving privileges
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Mandatory coursework
  • Vehicle forfeiture

If you or a loved one is facing a charge of drunk or drugged driving, it is crucial that you seek legal guidance as early as possible. An experienced defender can work to lessen the penalties you face and prevent permanent damage to your driving record.

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Suffolk County Defenders Association New York State Defenders Association | Founded 1967 New York State Bar Association Suffolk County Bar Association | NY 1908

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