Can I be arrested for DUI because I drove after taking medicines prescribed by my doctor?

Written by Reynolds Defense Firm

On September 4, 2017

The short answer is “yes”, and we seem to be seeing an increase in good people being arrested for DUI, not because they drove after drinking or taking unlawful drugs, but because they drove after taking their prescribed medications, even when they took the exact dosage their doctor recommended. While there are exceptions to every rule, here are some things to keep in mind:

Controlled Substances and Driving

A doctor’s prescription does not make it legal to drive while taking that medication if it makes you “under the influence” of the medication, and that medication is legally considered a controlled substance. While not all prescription medications are considered controlled substances, many commonly prescribed medications are, like Percocet and Xanax.

Defining “Under the Influence” for Prescription Drugs

“Under the influence” means that the medication “negatively impacts a person’s mental or physical faculties” enough that it is noticeable to another person. In other words, if taking your medication makes you less sharp either physically (reaction time) or mentally (confusion) as you would otherwise be without the medication, and officer may consider you to be “under the influence” of that medication under Oregon DUI laws.

Real-life Example: Tiger Woods’ DUI Arrest and Prescription Medications

Earlier this summer, this topic was relevant in the news with Tiger Wood’s DUI arrest.  Our CEO, MacDaniel Reynolds, discussed Tiger’s arrest and prescription DUI in Oregon in an interview for KXL News Radio with Brett Reckamp.  Visit our Reynolds Defense Firm YouTube Channel if you’d like to hear the full interview.

Seeking Clarity: Insights on Prescription DUI

To sum things up, I think there are two categories of folks that are arrested for prescribed drug DUI’s. Some are like Tiger and don’t realize that their medicine will affect them drastically. The other are those who regularly take medicine to improve their quality of life and have never had to prove their sobriety.  We wish Tiger the best and understand that even though unfavorable reactions to prescribed medicine isn’t a valid defense for a DUI arrest, it does happen. We represent good people facing these types of criminal charges on a regular basis.

We hope you never need to call us, but if you or someone you care about has been arrested for a DUI, please call us right away (503) 549-4590.

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