• Coastal South Law

Can I Get a DWI for Prescription Medication?


If you are a North Carolina driver, it is important to be aware of the laws this state has for driving impaired and under the influence. While most drivers are aware that they can be convicted of DWI for having a blood alcohol level over .08, far fewer know that they can be convicted of driving while impaired even if they have no alcohol in their system at all. It may not come as a surprise that drugs that are illegal to take, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are also illegal to drive while under the influence of, but it is also critical to be aware of the effects that any doctor-prescribed medication can have on your driving abilities.


Driving While Impaired in North Carolina


While there are exact amounts of alcohol that can be in your system or even of illegal drugs in your bloodstream, it can be harder to gauge the amount and effects of prescription drugs in your system at the time of an accident. In general, it is important to review all side effects of over-the-counter and doctor-prescribed medications and to heed all warnings about possible drowsiness and dizziness. If a medication warns you to stay away from heavy machinery, that means you should not be driving. The fact that a doctor prescribed the medication is not an excuse or a legal defense if it had any effect on your driving.


Police officers often determine impairment of driving based on visual cues, such as swerving, driving the wrong way on the highway, or other reckless conduct. This means that there does not have to be a certain amount of the prescription drug in your system in order to be charged if officers believe that they observed you driving impaired. This also means that it makes no difference legally even if you were taking a prescribed medication exactly as you were instructed to. If it has any effect on your driving and you knew or should have known about this risk, you can be charged with driving impaired.


Likewise, if you take a legal substance that you can buy over the counter without a prescription and it affects your driving, you can be charged with driving while impaired. In North Carolina, people have been charged with DWI for taking Nyquil because it impaired their ability to drive.


Fighting a DWI Charge


A lawyer is instrumental in your fight to overcome a DWI charge. Your lawyer will likely attack the prosecution’s account of your erratic driving or the other subjective signals that they relied on in determining that your driving was impaired. Often there is another excuse for the appearance of impairment and your charges can be reduced to reckless driving or a moving violation.


Schedule a Consultation with Coastal South Law


If you are facing charges for DWI in North Carolina based on prescription medication, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at North Carolina’s Coastal South Law are ready to help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation so that we can start fighting for you.

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