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Detroit Legal Blog

Common Medications that Lead to DUI

Dec 06, 2017, by Maurice Davis in OWI

A common misconception about Michigan’s drugged driving law is that you can only get arrested for driving after consuming illegal drugs. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, there are a number of medications that lead to DUI. Section 257.625 of the Michigan Vehicle Code Act prohibits you from driving or being in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while intoxicated, which means being under the influence of:

  • Alcoholic liquor
  • A controlled substance, meaning an illegal drug
  • Any other intoxicating substance, which includes many prescription and non-prescription medications

Therefore, you should avoid driving if your medicine label cautions against driving or operating machinery after taking the medication. The police could arrest you if you seem drowsy or impaired. Once in custody, they may test your blood or urine for the presence of an intoxicating substance, and then charge you with operating while impaired (OWI) if your test comes out positive. If you test negative, you may still get charged with operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) based on the officer’s determination that you were too out of it to drive safely.

If you’re facing for driving under the influence of drugs in Michigan, call a Michigan drugged driving lawyer from Davis Law Group at (313) 818-3238 to schedule a free case consultation. We have experience handling DUI & drugged driving cases in Detroit, Flint, Port Huron, Southfield, and more.

Common Prescription Medicine Leading to OWI/OWVI

Michigan law prohibits driving with any amount of a controlled substance in your system, including many prescription medications. You should check the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) full list of scheduled substances for a complete list. Here are some of the more common controlled substances with medical uses that we see in connection to Michigan impaired driving cases:

  • Codeine- Although not widely prescribed as a painkiller, it is present in some cold medicine.
  • Hydrocodone- This painkiller is also known under the brand names Vicodin and Lortab.
  • Oxycodone- Also called OxyContin, Percodan, or Percocet, this is a powerful painkiller.
  • Benzodiazepines- This category of anti-anxiety medication includes Xanax, diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Barbiturates- Mostly used as sedatives, some of the most popular barbiturates include pentobarbital (Nembutal Sodium) and phenobarbital (Luminal).
  • Sleep Medications- Including eszopiclone (Lunesta), zolpidem (Ambien), and zaleplon (Sonata).
  • ADHD medication- These medications include amphetamine (which makes up Adderall) and methylphenidate (Concerta).
  • Marijuana- Cannabis is now a legal medication under Michigan law, and is used to treat a number of medical conditions.

Having a prescription for any of the above medications can protect you from possession charges, but not an OWI charge. You are not allowed to be impaired while driving, even if it’s from medicine that you are entitled, or required, to take.

Common Non-Prescription Drugs Involved in Impaired Driving Cases

An OWI or OWVI is possible, even if you have consumed an over-the-counter drug. This is because the legal status of the drug in your system is not the issue. What’s important to law enforcement is your level of impairment. The following drugs, which you can obtain without a prescription, can affect your perception, judgment, and motor skills:

  • Cough medicine- Especially those such as Robitussin that contain dextromethorphan (DXM)
  • Antihistamines- Including allergy medication such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and loratadine (Claritin)
  • Decongestants- Be aware of oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, or pseudoephedrine if you need to drive

What Are the Penalties for Driving While Impaired by Medication?

If the police observe that your ability to operate your car impaired because you took medication, they may charge you with operating while visibly impaired (OWVI). For a first conviction of this charge, you could face:

  • Fines reaching $300
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Restricted driving privileges for three months
  • Four points added to your driver’s license
  • $500 Driver Responsibility Fee

If the police give you a blood or urine test that confirms the presence of an intoxicating substance, you could be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI). This crime carries a slightly stiffer sentence for a first conviction, and that is:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Suspended driver’s license for 30 days, and restricted driving privileges for up to 150 days
  • Possible obligation to install an ignition interlock device
  • Six points on your driving record
  • $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee

Davis Law Group Can Help

Fortunately, you may be able to avoid these penalties with the help of a Detroit drugged driving lawyer from Davis Law Group. Your alleged impairment could have arisen from a number of factors, such as fatigue or illness. If you’ve been accused of impaired driving because of your medication, contact attorney Maurice Davis for a free consultation. We have experience handling DUI cases in Detroit, Flint, Port Huron, Southfield, and more.

Contact our office today at (313) 818-3238.