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What you need to know about medication and field sobriety tests

As you likely know, drinking and driving in Missouri is a bad idea. If officers discover that you have a blood alcohol concentration above the 0.08% legal limit, you are likely to face a variety of consequences. Still, the medication you take may interfere with the methods officers use to identify impaired drivers. 

Modern medicine offers physicians a variety of ways to treat many illnesses and injuries. Whether you take prescription or over-the-counter medication, though, you should think about how it may affect your driving ability. You should also understand that certain medications may make passing a field sobriety test nearly impossible. 

Driving restrictions 

Driving in an intoxicated condition is illegal in the Show Me State. That is, you do not have to be under the influence of alcohol to violate the state’s DWI laws. Certain medications may put you in an intoxicated condition. Taking some pain relivers, heart medications, opioids and other types of prescription, over-the-counter and recreational drugs requires you to exercise caution. 

Field sobriety testing 

Even if you do not meet the legal definition of intoxication, some medications may increase your likelihood of failing a field sobriety test. That is, an officer may ask you to perform certain tasks beside the road. If the medication you take affects balance, eye focus or mental concentration, the officer may think you have had too much to drink. 

Breath testing 

In addition to or in lieu of a field sobriety test, an officer may ask you to breathe into a testing device that measures BAC. Unfortunately, medications may trick the test into issuing a false-positive reading. While generally legal to consume, albuterol, cold medicine, oral painkillers and antacids may cause the test to believe you are intoxicated when you are perfectly sober. 

Clearly, before taking either prescription or over-the-counter medication, you must understand how it may affect your ability to drive safely. If you find yourself in the middle of a DWI stop, though, you should also know how the medication you take may cause you to face criminal charges.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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