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The Consequences of Driving While Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs

February 17, 2014

Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs (DUI) is against the law and can result in significant criminal penalties. Many Tennessee drivers are unaware that driving under the influence of prescription drugs can lead to DUI charges as well. According to a recent Fox 17 news report, the high rate of prescription drug use in Tennessee is leading to an influx in the number of impaired driving arrests.

A recent study reported in Forbes shows that a number of states in the south are well above the national average for prescription drug use. In fact, Tennessee ranked fourth in the nation for having the highest retail prescriptions filled per capita. This means that more people in Tennessee are currently taking prescription drugs than just about anywhere else in the nation. Therefore, there is a large percentage of Tennessee drivers who could face DUI charges if they choose to drive while under the influence of their legal, prescription drugs.

If you take prescription drugs, you should read the label and discuss with your doctor how the drugs could affect your ability to drive. A number of drugs are perfectly safe to take before driving, but others clearly say that they can affect your ability to operate machinery or motor vehicles. Many drugs that would be safe on their own are dangerous when combined with other medications. Make sure to discuss with your doctor what side effects may result from combining drugs.

If you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI because you were driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, you may be able to fight the charges. Generally, DUI cases involving prescription drugs are more difficult to prosecute than those involving alcohol, and the prosecution may struggle to show how your ability to drive was compromised. Until there is a standardized test to prove how much a driver is impaired, the prosecution will have to rely on field sobriety tests, eyewitness accounts, dashboard cameras, and other pieces of evidence that are not as accurate as a blood alcohol test. Please contact an experienced Knoxville DUI defense lawyer to discuss your defense strategy.