Understanding the legal implications of prescription drug-related DUI
Drivers in South Carolina are often charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other drugs. But what about prescription medication? Can drivers be charged in South Carolina with DUI while operating a vehicle under the influence of legal prescription drugs? And if so, what are the penalties?
Below, you can learn more about South Carolina’s DUI laws and how they apply to prescription drugs, courtesy of an experienced South Carolina DUI defense attorney who has represented many people charged with DUI offenses in the state.
Can I be charged for driving under the influence of prescription drugs?
The short answer? Yes, you can be charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs in South Carolina in certain circumstances. For example, even if a doctor has prescribed a drug for a specific medical condition, you can be charged with DUI if the prescription drug affects your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
In this respect, prescription drugs are similar to alcohol. Both substances are legal in South Carolina. However, drivers over 21 can be charged with DUI of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over 0.08 percent.
However, prescription drugs are different from other substances that can potentially impair a driver. Tests to determine if a prescription drug legally impairs someone might not be the same as tests given to someone under the influence of alcohol. This is why anyone charged with DUI involving prescription drugs should immediately talk to a defense attorney to learn more about their legal rights and options.
Why are some prescription medications dangerous for drivers?
Certain prescription drugs sometimes impair a driver’s ability to drive. In most cases, such prescription medications can have side effects that impair someone’s ability to drive, including:
- Blurred vision
- Reduced motor skills
- Nausea-inducing medications
What prescription drugs are often associated with DUI?
Prescription medications often associated with impaired driving can include a wide range of drugs, including:
- Prescription pain relief medications
- Antidepressant medications, including Prozac and Zoloft
- Sleep medication drugs, including Ambien
- Anxiety relief drugs, including Xanax
- Antiseizure drugs
- Medications containing codeine
- Certain allergy or cold medications
What are the penalties for DUI of prescription drugs?
Like other DUI charges in South Carolina, the penalties for being convicted of driving under the influence of prescription medications can be severe. Such penalties can include:
- A fine of at least $400.
- Up to 30 days in jail.
- Suspension of driver’s license for 6 months.
South Carolina’s DUI regulations can be found in Title 56 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.
How can a South Carolina DUI defense attorney help?
DUI charges involving prescription drugs or anything that can impair someone’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle can be complicated. Even when or how the DUI test is administered matters, along with how the test results are stored. If the arresting police officer or the person administering the test makes a mistake at any point, such test results might be dismissed and cannot be used as evidence.
This is why anyone charged with driving under the influence of prescription medications in South Carolina should immediately talk to an attorney to learn more about their legal rights. An experienced South Carolina DUI defense lawyer can review your case, answer your questions, and explain your potential legal options.
A former South Carolina prosecutor, attorney Matt Bodman can work with you and build the strongest possible legal case in your defense. Get the law firm that gets results. Contact Matt Bodman, P.A., and schedule an appointment today with a Columbia, South Carolina DUI defense attorney who gets results.