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Can I get a DUI while taking prescription drugs?

You and your Loudoun County doctor undoubtedly have perfectly valid reasons for the prescription drugs you take. But if you're taking medications that impair your ability to drive, you should know that you can be arrested in Virginia for driving under the influence.

While many people think of DUI as an offense involving alcohol, it can also involve the drugs you are taking on your doctor's orders and can even involve over-the-counter medications.

Consider that even antihistamines, commonly used to fight allergies or hay fever, can cause the slowing of a person's reactions and a diminishment of coordination. If you look at the label on your favorite antihistamine, you will find cautions against driving after taking these familiar over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines.

Let's take a look at some other frequently used OTC and prescriptions that can cause problems for some drivers, including the following:

  • Decongestants: OTC varieties can help with cold, cough and flu symptoms, but can also result in drowsiness or dizziness, among other side effects.
  • Xanax or Valium: these commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications can result in impairment; and impairment can result in a DUI charge that can mean substantial fines, driver's license suspension and even jail time.
  • Antidepressants: also commonly prescribed, these drugs sometimes have sedating effects that can, like alcohol and Xanax, slow drivers' reactions and diminish coordination and judgment.

Mixing alcohol with any of those medications can result in enhanced impairment that can make it unsafe to drive.

If you face a DUI as the result of driving while using a doctor-ordered prescription or an OTC medication, a defense attorney can help you understand, choose and make use of your best legal options in court and at the DMV.

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Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White
30 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

Toll Free: 800-239-4122
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