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Could you face a DUI for prescription medications?


When people think of a DWI, they typically think of drivers impaired by alcohol. However, driving while intoxicated in Virginia is not limited to a single substance. It can include anything that impairs your ability to operate a motor vehicle.

The presence of a substance can remain in your system long after the effects have worn off. This means that alcohol, illegal drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and, yes, even prescription medications can all lead to a DWI charge. However, proving impairment may be difficult.

Physical Signs of Impairment

A traffic stop can be initiated for several reasons that could call an officer to question your driving ability. Physical signs of impairment that law enforcement may claim include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Watery or bloodshot eyes
  • Abnormal pupil activity
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Abnormal body movements

Still, the observation of these indications alone is subjective. If suspected of driving under the influence, an officer may ask you to participate in a field sobriety test or submit to chemical testing.

Proving Impairment

Advancements in technology enable some breathalyzers to detect narcotics, but you may also be asked to provide urine or blood. If you test positive for a substance the officer may conclude impaired driving. However, chemical testing may also prove unrealizable as:

  • False positives do occur
  • A positive may not indicate when a drug was used
  • Testing methods may be faulty

There are several reasons someone could test positive for a substance even if not impaired. If you take a prescription medication regularly, you could test with a higher detection rate.

Charged with a DWI

Driving while impaired does include any substance with the ability to impair driving. If you take prescription medication, you should be aware of DWI laws. If you’re facing a DWI for a prescription medication, you may seek additional information regarding these laws. 

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