Impaired driving offenses often affect those who have consumed alcohol or illegal drugs. Someone who tests positive for a blood alcohol concentration over the per se limit or a prohibited substance will likely face criminal charges.
Still, you don’t have to drink before driving or try an illegal drug to face an impaired driving charge in Missouri. Legal prescription medications, even used exactly as a doctor orders, could also trigger impaired driving charges.
When might the state charge you with driving while intoxicated (DWI) because of a prescription medication?
When the medication has an association with impaired driving
Certain medications, ranging from anti-seizure medicine to opioid painkillers, have a strong association with diminished driving capabilities. If your doctor warned you not to drive after taking the drug or if there is a warning label affixed to the prescription vial or other packaging for the drug, then you risk criminal charges if you get behind the wheel after taking the medication, even if you don’t feel chemically impaired.
When the medication makes you feel foggy, confused, sleepy or silly
Not everyone reacts the same way to every medication. You could have a stronger than usual response to a medicine most people take without consequences. Recognizing when a medication impacts your cognition, your consciousness or your focus can help you make better decisions about when you take that medication and what you do after taking it.
When you drink while taking prescription medication
A single drink typically isn’t enough to affect the driving ability of an adult. Many medications on their own may only cause minor cognitive issues not serious enough to impair your driving ability.
However, when there are already other chemical substances present in someone’s bloodstream, one drink might be enough to affect their driving skills. The combination of alcohol and prescription medication could have a substantially bigger impact on your driving ability than either of those substances on their own.
Your prescription medications can protect your health and improve your quality of life, but they can also put you at risk. Identifying scenarios that could lead to DWI charges can help you avoid a negative interaction with police or respond more appropriately to pending charges.