People throughout Michigan, including here in Portage, rely on prescription medications to treat the symptoms of chronic health conditions. Without their medication, they could experience terrible pain or other debilitating symptoms. Their lives could be in danger.
So it may be surprising to learn that you can be <a href=”/drunk-driving/first-offense-dui/”>arrested for OWI</a> if you are caught driving with certain legal drugs in your system — even if you have a valid prescription.
<h2>Side effects are the problem</h2>
The issue is that many medications <a href=”https://www.findlaw.com/dui/charges/you-can-get-a-dui-on-legal-drugs.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>cause side effects</a> that can affect your ability to drive safely, such as:
<li>Reduced ability to concentrate</li>
<li>Slowed reaction times</li>
These are many of the same effects that drinking alcohol causes. The law treats driving under the influence of certain medications the same as drinking and driving. This means that your driver’s license could be suspended for at least six months (with eligibility for a restricted license after 30 days) and you could be charged fees. Note that these are the penalties for a first offense in Michigan.
<h2>Alternatives to possible arrest</h2>
As long as you take a medication that is causing you significant side effects, you would be risking arrest every time you drive. Consider talking with your doctor about possible alternative medications. If none are available, you might need to find alternatives to driving. Maybe your spouse or someone else in the household can drive you when needed. Or rideshare programs might help you keep your independence until you can drive without risk of arrest again.
If you have already gotten charged with OWI or OWVI due to a drug you had a prescription for, you should think about contacting a criminal defense attorney to discuss your options.