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What You Need to Know About DUI With Prescription Drugs

The consequences of driving under the influence of any drug can be devastating, and this is especially true when it comes to driving while under the influence of prescription medication. With more than half a million people in America arrested each year while DUI with prescription drugs, it’s important to understand the risks associated with such behavior and to know the legal implications of driving drunk on prescription medication.

In this article, we’ll explore the consequences of driving under the influence of prescription medication, looking at both the short-term and long-term implications. We’ll also review the legal ramifications of driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, and discuss the measures you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you have been arrested for driving under prescription drugs contact our Kane County DUI attorneys to schedule a free consultation.

What it Means to Drive Under the Influence of Prescription Medication

Driving under the influence of prescription medication means driving while impaired by any drug, including those prescribed to you by a doctor.

Police officers can often determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs during field sobriety tests. It is illegal to drive while impaired by any drug, even if you have a valid prescription for it, regardless of the dosage or medical need.

a driver taking a pill while behind the wheel of a car

Driving while under the influence of drugs can have serious consequences, both in terms of legal repercussions and potential harm that could be inflicted on yourself or others. It is important to understand these risks before getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of prescription medication.

It is important to understand that driving under the influence of any drug—whether it is prescription medication or an illegal substance—is a serious offense. The consequences can range from fines and jail time to the loss of your license and even potential civil lawsuits or criminal charges.

Types of Medication That Can Impair Driving

Generally, any drug that affects a person’s ability to think clearly, react quickly, or concentrate on the task of driving can impair their ability to drive safely. Some of the most common categories of medications that can have a negative impact on driving include:

  • Opioid painkillers
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Stimulant drugs (such as Ritalin or Adderall)

Driving while impaired by any type of drug, whether it is prescribed or not, can have serious legal repercussions and may even result in a blood test to determine the presence of drugs in a person's system. You should always read the label and check with your doctor before driving if you are taking any of these types of drugs.

Illinois Prescription DUI Penalties

In Illinois, driving under the influence of prescription drugs is a misdemeanor offense that carries a fine and potential time in jail. The specific consequences will depend on the type and amount of drug taken, as well as any prior DUI convictions. Generally speaking, the following penalties may apply:

  • A minimum of one-year loss of license
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Fines ranging from $500 to $2,500
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Community service
  • Mandatory court appearances

These penalties may be further enhanced if the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than the legal limit of 0.08%, or if any other traffic laws were broken in conjunction with the DUI charge. Your erratic driving, blood pressure, and blood alcohol count may show signs of intoxication. All of these factors will be taken into account before sentencing.

First-time Conviction for Prescription Drug DUI

If you are driving on prescription medication and convicted of a first time DUI, you may be eligible for an informal probation program or court supervision. This can include a combination of fines, community service, and drug or alcohol treatment programs. However, if you are convicted more than once, the penalties will be much more severe.

Second and Subsequent Prescription Drug DUI Penalties

If you are convicted of impaired driving multiple times, the penalties will be much harsher. You may face a minimum of five years of loss of license, up to seven years in jail, and fines of up to $5,000. You may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in your car. An IID will require you to pass a breath test before starting your car.

What Makes It Difficult to Determine Prescription Drug Impairment?

Usually, it is hard to determine if a person is impaired due to prescription medication or not. In some cases, it can be difficult to distinguish between the effects of a legal and illegal substance. Additionally, some people may be unaware that they are impaired due to prescription drugs or have not followed the instructions of their prescribing doctor. As such, it can be difficult for law enforcement officers to accurately determine a person's level of impairment.

Strong Defenses to Counter Prescription Drug DUI Charges

If you are charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, there may be a few defenses available to you. Depending on the circumstances and the available evidence, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the accuracy of the officer’s observations or point out inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

Additionally, a lawyer can help you negotiate a plea agreement that may reduce the severity of your charges or even get them dismissed altogether. A plea bargain may be possible in cases where the driver was unaware of their impairment or had not followed the instructions of their prescribing doctor.

a prescription bottle on a desk

Furthermore, a legal professional may also be able to provide evidence that any drug-related symptoms observed by the officer were caused by an underlying medical condition, not the medication. This can help the driver avoid a DUI conviction.

In any case, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before entering a plea or going to trial. An attorney can advise you on the most appropriate action for your specific situation and provide legal guidance throughout the entire process.

Final Thoughts

Driving under the influence of prescription drugs can be a serious offense in Illinois, with potential penalties ranging from fines and license suspension to jail time. It is important to know what constitutes a prescription drug DUI, as well as the potential consequences.

No matter what charges you are facing, it is important to remember that you have rights and should exercise them whenever possible. If you are charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome in your case.

DUI Lawyers 24/7 is here to help if you have been charged with a prescription drug DUI in Illinois. Our experienced attorneys can provide legal advice and guidance throughout the entire process, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair outcome.

Call our law firm at (847) 999-7616 for an initial consultation and to start building your defense.

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