blog home Drug Crimes DUI DUIs, But With Prescription Medication

DUIs, But With Prescription Medication

By Peters & Nolan, LLC on October 10, 2021

Most drivers falsely believe that driving under the influence (DUI) charges only apply to alcohol use, but Colorado state law says otherwise. Under Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1301, drivers can be charged with a DUI for using either alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle, as well as a combination of drugs and alcohol. Sometimes referred to as a DUID, this crime does not just apply to illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine. In fact, it can apply to prescription medication.

The Legality of Prescription Drugs

Despite common misperceptions, prescription drugs are treated as controlled substances by federal and state law; the existence of a prescription only allows certain patients to access and use these drugs in limited doses. Separate from a prescription, most medication is illegal to possess and use. For example, Adderall, a drug used to manage ADHD symptoms, is a Schedule II drug, the second highest classification for a controlled substance in the United States. Despite potentially being addictive, it does have medical uses, which is why individuals with ADHD can possess and use it with a prescription.

How Do Prescription Drugs Cause DUIs?

Whether or not a prescribed substance can result in a DUI depends on how the drug impacts the brain. For example, a prescription is required for most antibiotics, but these drugs are unlikely to affect a patient’s ability to drive. However, some antibiotics may cause nausea and lightheadedness, which can make it difficult for a patient to drive. In addition, painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and lightheadedness. Many medications also include warnings telling patients to “avoid operating heavy machinery,” which does include cars, as using these drugs before driving makes crashes much more likely.

Common types of medication that can result in a DUID include:

  • Vicodin
  • OxyContin
  • Adderall
  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Clarinex
  • Lunesta
  • Benadryl

Testing for DUIDs

In order to arrest you for a DUI involving prescription medication, police officers must first have probable cause to pull you over. This may include another driver reporting that you appeared intoxicated while driving, or the officer witnessing you weave between lanes, stop intermittently, speed, or make another traffic violation.

Once an officer has probable cause, she can pull you over and administer several types of DUI tests. While a breathalyzer will not test for the presence of prescription medication or other drugs, the officer can request that you perform a field sobriety test, which measures a driver’s motor functions, and a chemical test to confirm the results. You do have the right to refuse a field sobriety test; however, you cannot refuse a chemical test. Refusing a chemical test can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension.

Speak With an Experienced DUI Attorney

Our Grand Junction criminal defense lawyers have represented clients in thousands of DUI cases and succeeded in getting them positive results. We have an in-depth understanding of proper testing procedures and how officers check for prescription medication use during DUI stops. Let us use our expertise to fight on your behalf. Call Peters & Nolan, LLC, today at (970) 243-4357 for a free consultation.

Related Articles:

Posted in: Drug Crimes, DUI

Contact us today for a Free Consultation

Call Peters & Nolan, LLC at 970-243-4357 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.

About Us

Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

After a Traumatic Event,
Every Moment Counts.

Contact Peters & Nolan, LLC, for tenacious
and compassionate representation