Can You Get a DUI in Connecticut for Taking Prescription Drugs?

Driving under the influence most commonly applies to driving after drinking alcohol. But, there are ways to get a DUI without having a sip of alcohol. This is because “driving under the influence” refers to the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Even if you have prescription for medication, you could get a DUI if you drive after taking it.

Prescription Pills and Driving

Some substances are legal to consume, such as alcohol and prescribed medication. But, this does not mean that it is safe to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of these substances. This is obvious in a situation involving alcohol. If you are over the legal limit, you can get a DUI. But, many people think that prescribed medication does not pose any issues.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Before getting behind the wheel, you should talk to your doctor about side effects of medication. Some medication can make you drowsy, blur your vision, alter your depth perception, or do something else that could affect your ability to safely drive. You need to know about these potential issues before you get behind the wheel.

Talk to a doctor if you are taking prescribed medication and you are not sure if you can safely drive. If you are not sure if you can drive after taking certain medication, look at the warning labels on the bottle. Most prescription pills and over-the-counter medication will provide a warning if you are not supposed to take them and drive.

Prescription Pill DUI

If you exhibit signs of intoxication, or if a police officer pulls you over for another reason, you could be charged with a DUI. Remember that a breathalyzer or standardized field sobriety tests might not indicate intoxication due to prescription pills. However, other signs may be used in charging you with this crime. In addition, a blood test or a urine test will reveal any drugs that you have in your system, even if they are legal.

In some cases, there may be good defenses against a drug DUI charge. For example, test results can be refuted in court by a good DUI defense attorney.

Police Detection

Police officers have the right to pull you over for a multitude of reasons. This includes speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, cutting other drivers off, or driving recklessly. If you are on medication that makes you act differently than you normally do, it could lead to some of these behaviors. It could be cause for an officer to pull you over. Once you get pulled over, a police officer will notice groggy behavior or drowsiness that could result from certain types of allergy or asthma medication, tranquilizers, stress-relief medication, or pain medication. While it might be perfectly legal for you to take this medication, you might not be allowed to drive after taking the medication.

Breath Tests

If pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence, a police officer might ask you to submit to a breath test. Even if the breath test comes back negative, you can still face arrest for a DUI if you fail a field sobriety test. This is due to the fact that some illegal substances such as marijuana and some legal medication such as prescription pills do not show up on the breathalyzer test. A police officer can still determine that you are driving under the influence and arrest you as a result.

If the breath test indicates that you are not under the influence of alcohol, it might be difficult for the state to convict you of a DUI. However, you can still face charges for a DUI and you could face the punishments that go along with a DUI. For this reason, it is best to know the side effects of your medication before you drive with it in your system. If you start a new medication, try it out before you plan on driving. This will determine the effects of the medication and how long they last for. Also talk to your doctor about your medication. Your doctor can tell you if it is safe to drive after taking the medication.

DUI Defenses

There are several ways to fight a DUI charge if it is determined that you were not under the influence of alcohol, but instead under the influence of prescribed medication. In some cases involving DUIs and prescription drugs, it’s hard for the state to even prove that you were on any type of medication at the time of your arrest. Hiring a DUI lawyer to help build evidence for your defense is the best way that you can fight a DUI charge, especially if the breathalyzer test came back negative.

Many different types of drugs can impact the way that you drive. This includes over-the-counter medication or a type of prescription pill. While taking these kinds of medication is not illegal, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of them might be. 

Getting Help

If you have been charged with a DUI related to prescription pill use, there are important steps that you need to take for your defense. An attorney can help you take these steps and make sure that your case is being properly defended. Make sure that you find an attorney who has worked with drug DUIs in the past. This type of DUI differs in some ways from the standard alcohol related DUI. It is important that you find someone with the knowledge to assist in your particular situation. At my office, we deal with drug DUIs and can help you with your case. To learn more, contact my office for a free consultation. We are happy to help.


My name is Teresa, and I am a DUI lawyer, but that is only part of who I am. I have been practicing law in Connecticut since 2006.


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