Could my medications cause a DUI offense in North Carolina?

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Many of the over-the-counter and prescription drugs that most of us take for relief of common symptoms of colds and allergies can make us so sleepy that we are six times more likely to be involved in a crash while driving a vehicle, according to a UK study. For our own safety, we need to be sure we are aware of the side effects of our medications, such as drowsiness, and that we avoid driving when we are taking them. In North Carolina, you can be charged with a DUI offense even when you are taking your prescription medication in the appropriate dosage, as recommended by your doctor.


Laws concerning driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol have been evolving as more and more law enforcement agencies recognize the opioid epidemic with its stunning increase in prescription drug abuse. According to, “Under the influence” means the driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle was affected to an appreciable degree by an alcoholic beverage, a drug, or a combination of the two.” One result is that an officer who pulls you over on suspicion of driving while impaired is more likely to arrest you.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also studied the problem. A 2009 NHTSA study found that, while drunk driving is declining, approximately 16 percent of people driving at night have some potentially impairing drug in their system—not only illegal, recreational drugs, but also prescription and over-the-counter products such as “stimulants, sedatives, antidepressants, and narcotic analgesics.”


Side effects of medications that can cause your driving to seem impaired include dizziness,

drowsiness, nausea, blurred vision, slowed movement, fainting, and inability to focus or pay attention. If you are charged with DUI while taking your prescribed medication as directed, be sure to contact an experienced DUI attorney. You will need legal assistance to avoid potentially severe penalties.


Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on personal injury and workers’ compensation law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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