Your friend is looking woozy, but she’s getting into her car anyway. Like the good pal you are, you try to see what’s going on.

Prescription-Drug-DUI“Are you all right?” you ask.

“Sure,” she says. But she doesn’t look all right.

“You seem kind of tired. Have you had a drink?”

“No way. Are you kidding? I’m on pain meds for my back. They really knock me out.”

“You probably shouldn’t be driving, then.”

“It’s okay.”

“If you’re stopped, you’ll get arrested.”

“No. I’ll show them my prescription.”

A surprising number of people think that a prescription lets them get away with driving impaired. The fact is, in Arizona and every other state, it’s against the law to drive impaired, whether the wooziness is caused by alcohol, a prescription drug, an over-the-counter medicine, or some other substance. A prescription drug DUI is no different from the standard one that you see in the police reports on the news. You’ll be booked, fingerprinted, suspended, and fined. If it’s a second or third offense, penalties increase. And note that having a medical marijuana card will not get you out of an impaired driving charge.

The most common drugs that lead to a DUI are:

  • Pain Medications (Codeine, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin
  • Anxiety Medications: (Valium,¬†Xanax)
  • Sleep Medications (Ambien, Lunesta)

Many other prescription medications can also impair a driver enough to attract the attention of a police officer. Drivers are sometimes under the impression that a prescription is a magic amulet that will ward off an arrest, but the fact is, the police are in the business of taking impaired drivers off the roads. Those medications’ labels warn you against driving for that reason.

Arizonans take note: the safe move is to treat any medicine that comes with a warning like an alcoholic drink. Those pills are to get you well, not to get you arrested, injured, or killed.

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