Can I Get a DUI for Taking Prescription Medication in California?

June 27, 2022 by Madison Ferguson in California  DUI  
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DUI for Taking Prescription Medication

Most people assume they cannot get a DUI for taking prescription medication, but this could not be further from the truth.

The California Vehicle Code 23152(f) makes it unlawful for any person under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. Yes, this does include prescription medication.

Here is some information you should know if you ever find yourself charged with a DUI charge for taking prescription medication in California.

Why Might You Get a DUI for Meds?

To ensure the safety of you and other drivers on the road, the law necessitates that all drivers are competent when they get behind the wheel. This means that they should not be under the influence of any substance that can affect their brain, muscles, or nervous system, substantially affecting their ability to drive as a reasonably cautious person.

While prescription medication and even over-the-counter medication may affect different people differently. They do come with some side effects that could impair your ability to drive competently. Some of the most common side effects that can affect your ability to drive include:

  • Dizziness
  • Slower reflexes than normal
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to focus
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Due to the possibility of any of these side effects while driving. One can get charged with driving under the influence of drugs even if the drugs were prescribed to them legally. The most common prescription drugs you can be charged with a DUI for include:

  • Prescription marijuana
  • Ambien
  • Cough medicine that can cause drowsiness
  • Xanax
  • Vicodin
  • Morphine
  • Cough medicine that can cause drowsiness
  • Hydrocodone

How Do Prosecutors Prove The Suspect Was Driving Under The Influence of Prescription Medication?

Prosecutors usually rely on a drug test to help prove that the driver was under the influence of a prescription drug. However, this can only work if the test was obtained legally. Prosecutors will also use the driver’s admission, if there was any, to prove that the defendant was actually under the influence. However, this confession will only be admissible if it was obtained legally. This is why we highly encourage the driver to exercise their right to remain silent and refrain from answering any questions about any drugs they have consumed when asked by law enforcement during a traffic stop.

The prosecution will also have to prove that the driver was impaired by the prescription medication they were on. In this case, the prosecutor will likely show evidence of the driver’s wanting performance on the field sobriety tests and try to show that the driver’s balance or focus was affected because of the prescription medication they were taking.

The police officer’s testimony of why they stopped the driver, as well as their observations of the driver’s appearance, can also help establish if the driver was actually under the influence or not. For example, if the police officer noted that the driver ran a red light or they had an unsteady gait or dilated pupils when the police officer was speaking to them. It can help the prosecutor show that the driver was under the influence of a prescription drug.

However, a competent lawyer can help challenge this evidence and ensure you are not convicted of a DUI for taking prescription medication.

Defenses for DUI for Taking Prescription Medication

There are several defenses a defense lawyer can bring forward to help get your DUI dropped. They can choose to:

  • Challenge the blood drug tests
  • Prove that the driver was not impaired by prescription medication at the time they were driving
  • Challenge the field sobriety tests
  • Challenge the traffic stop. Remember police officers are only allowed to stop you if there is probable cause.

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Contact An Experienced California Lawyer

Therefore, if you or your loved one is facing charges for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, we highly recommend you call our firm. We have the experience you need and can expertly review your case to create an argument that will ensure you do not get convicted of a DUI for taking prescription drugs.

Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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