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DWI After Taking Prescription Drugs in North Carolina

According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of all Americans take prescription drugs. 85% of people over the age of 60 report taking prescription drugs on a regular basis. Some of these prescription drugs may affect your judgment, reaction times, vision, and other attributes necessary for safe driving. It is possible to face DWI charges after taking certain prescription drugs in North Carolina, and this can easily lead to serious consequences. How do you defend yourself in this situation?


Defining “Impairing Substances” Under North Carolina Law


In North Carolina, it is possible to face DWI charges if you drive under the influence of any “impairing substance.” This might be alcohol, illegal drugs, or legally prescribed medications. It becomes important to define “impairing substances” according to North Carolina law. The National Institute of Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration specifically highlight certain medications, including:


  • Benzodiazepines

  • Opioids

  • Antipsychotics

  • Antiseizure medications

  • Diet pills

  • Stimulants

  • Diarrhea medication

  • Bladder control medication

  • Motion sickness medication

  • Muscle relaxants

  • Sleeping pills

  • Antidepressants

  • Cold medicines

  • CBD medications

  • Allergy medications


These medications can affect your driving in many different ways. Some may make you overly drowsy, while others could overstimulate you. You may also experience various impairing side effects if you mix certain medications with other substances – especially cannabis and alcohol. 


How Do Police Determine Whether My Legal Prescription Drugs Were Impairing Me?


Police officers may use a variety of strategies to determine whether your prescription drugs are impairing your ability to drive. First, they may assess your driving before pulling you over. Perhaps you were veering across the road, speeding, or driving in an abnormally slow manner. After pulling you over, the officer may carefully observe your speech patterns, body movements, and general behavior. Finally, they may ask you to carry out a field sobriety test. You have the right to refuse. If you comply, your “score” on this test could indicate the presence of impairing drugs. 


From that point onward, the officer can choose to arrest you and subject you to a mandatory chemical test. Depending on what is available, this might take the form of a blood or urine test – and it could detect the presence of impairing prescription drugs in your system. The officer may also ask you whether you take prescription drugs and whether you are taking them as directed. Remember, you have the right to remain silent throughout this entire process – and it might be best to exercise this right until you have a chance to consult with your DWI defense lawyer in North Carolina. 


Find a Qualified DWI Lawyer in North Carolina


If you have been searching for a qualified DWI lawyer in North Carolina, look no further than Coastal South Law. We know that it is all too easy to face DWI charges after consuming relatively harmless prescription drugs. While these charges can be daunting, we can help you defend yourself with confidence. Book a consultation today to learn more about your legal options. 

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