Can I Be Charged With DUI When Using Prescription Drugs in Illinois?

St. Charles prescription medication DUI lawyer

Most people think of alcohol when the topic of DUI comes up. However, the term DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” and a driver can be under the influence of many different substances in addition to alcohol. These substances can include illegal drugs and even legally prescribed medications. Taking medication may not necessarily affect a person's ability to operate a motor vehicle. However, if certain medicines do cause impairment, someone behind the wheel could face penalties for DUI with prescription medication

Commonly Prescribed Medications Leading to DUI

Not all prescribed medications are known for causing impaired driving. For example, taking birth control or a medication used to reduce cholesterol may not affect your ability to drive. However, many other medications are known to impair drivers, and it is important to understand how those prescribed medicines will affect you before you get behind the wheel of a car. These common types of medications usually have a warning label on the bottle, but if there is any question about how they might affect your driving ability, you should speak to your prescribing doctor or pharmacist. Some prescription medications that could cause impairment include:

  • Opioid pain medications

  • Psychiatric medications, including antidepressants

  • Allergy reducers/antihistamines 

  • Sleeping aids

Even some over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as allergy reducers, antihistamines, and drugs used to treat the common cold or the flu can cause drowsiness and impaired driving.

Penalties for Prescription Drug DUIs

The penalties in the state of Illinois for a DUI charge and conviction are the same, whether you are found to be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or legally prescribed medications. A first-time DUI charge is a Class A misdemeanor that will result in a one-year revocation of driving privileges. A second DUI is also a Class A Misdemeanor, and it will result in a five-year license revocation. As of January 1, 2019, there are also penalties of imprisonment or community service for felony DUI convictions as well as those for aggravated DUI.

Medical Cannabis and Illinois DUI

If you are pulled over for impaired driving, or perhaps even a minor traffic violation, and you are found to be under the influence or in possession of marijuana, you may face a DUI charge as well as drug possession charges. It is important to understand that even if you are legally allowed to possess and use medical cannabis, you may still be charged with DUI if you are too intoxicated to drive safely. Being prescribed cannabis for medical use does not allow you to be under its effects while operating a vehicle. Be certain that you are no longer feeling the effects of the drug before getting behind the wheel. 

Contact a St. Charles DUI and Drug Charge Defense Attorney

Many drivers may not realize they are impaired after taking a prescription medicine, but this may lead to a DUI arrest. If you have been charged with a DUI due to your use of legally prescribed medication, an experienced Illinois DUI defense lawyer can help you understand your best options for defense against these charges. The Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC will help you navigate the legal process to possibly reduce or dismiss your charges. Call our office at 630-232-1780 today to schedule a free consultation.