Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, whether it's an illegal substance or legally prescribed medication, can also result in a DUI charge. Prescriptions are no defense to DUI charges.
Different drugs affect drivers in different ways. Those that impair judgment, alertness, and concentration or motor skills can be as dangerous as alcohol.
Since the Breathalyzer test cannot detect drugs in a person’s system like alcohol, some jurisdictions use what are called "Drug Recognition Experts" (DREs) –which are specially trained police officers who follow specific guidelines to determine drug impairment in motorists. DRE’s closely examine a person's eye movements, behavior and other cues pointing to drug influence. The presence of drugs typically is measured through urinalysis or a blood sample.
Many drugs legally purchased at a pharmacy, whether they're prescribed by a doctor or bought over-the-counter (OTC) can be just as dangerous for a person driving as alcohol and can result in a DUI. Look for warning labels or ask your pharmacist if you are not sure about a drug's capacity for impairment.
Below are some common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle and could result in a DUI charge:
• Antidepressants: Some sedating antidepressants cause impairment similar to drunk driving.
• Valium: can cause impairment similar to having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent.
• Antihistamines: Many of them slow reaction time and impair coordination.
• Decongestants: Many over-the-counter decongestants can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness.
• Sleeping Pills: Even in the morning, the residual effects of these drugs can impair drivers.
• Hydrocodone: This common pain reliever, the main component of Vicodin, is similar to opiates and causes impairment similar to morphine and codeine (oxycodone has similar effects).
While DUI charges involving alcohol are more straight forward because of the BAC , it gets trickier when other substances are involved. Since the level of impairment at any given time is difficult for officers to assess, a skilled attorney can often provide an effective defense to such charges. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, you should hire a skilled attorney to represent you. The Law office of Jeffery E. Nona is here to help you! 208-331-1633.
For an explanation of DUI (I.C. 18-8004) you can read more on the Idaho Statute here: