When you think about a DUI, you probably imagine drinking a lot of alcohol and ending up arrested for being drunk behind the wheel. That’s not the only time when someone can be accused of driving while impaired or arrested for it, though.
In fact, if you use over-the-counter medications, prescription medications or illicit drugs before driving, you could face a DUI as well. This is particularly true if your medications are for health conditions that may cause you to appear impaired.
Medical DUIs are more common than you think
When you’re stopped because you’re driving recklessly or make an error that an officer sees, they may ask you to roll down your window and speak with them. If you’re slurring your words, have unusual pupil dilation or seem confused, they may start asking questions. They may pursue a DUI even if a Breathalyzer test doesn’t come back at .08% or higher.
There are many drugs that can only be identified with blood tests, so it’s possible that an officer could call for an ambulance if you seem too impaired or like you may be having a medical emergency. That test, along with roadside sobriety testing (if you did it) could be used against you. Fortunately, you have an opportunity to defend yourself.
For example, if you take antiepileptic medications but still have a seizure, the aftermath of one may make you appear to be impaired or intoxicated. The medications may even come into question, but you have the medical history to show that you were likely not impaired at all at the time of the stop.
You have a defense if your medical condition changed how you drive
If you weren’t impaired or didn’t know that a drug could impair you, you have a defense. It is the officer’s burden to show that they legally stopped you and arrested you because of legitimate impairment, not a medical condition. On your side, remember that you should always test out new medications before you drive. If they make you dizzy, tired, nauseated or otherwise unable to focus or drive safely, avoid driving while taking them.