DWI charges are often associated with drunk driving. It’s true that driving while drunk can lead to an arrest, however alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to DWI charges. The law states that a driver commits DWI if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. This means a driver can also face DWI charges for being under the influence of drugs–even for legal prescription and over-the-counter medication.
The Meaning of “Intoxicated Condition”
The key phrase in Missouri’s DWI statute is “intoxicated condition.” This phrase gives law enforcement the right to arrest a driver for DWI if they believe the driver is intoxicated and unable to safely operate a vehicle. It doesn’t matter whether the intoxication was caused by alcohol, illegal drugs, legally prescribed medications, or OTC medications–all that matters is the driver’s condition.
How Prescription or OTC Medication Can Lead to DWI Charges
Prescription and OTC medications can cause a number of different side effects that impact your ability to safely operate a vehicle. For example, a sleeping pill can cause extreme grogginess and fatigue that is still present even after a good night of sleep. Pain medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications can all affect a driver’s judgment and reaction time. Even a medication as seemingly harmless as an antihistamine can cause drowsiness and make it difficult to react to sudden changes in your environment.
These side effects can occur even when you have obtained the medication legally and taken the appropriate dosage. If the side effects impact your ability to drive, it’s possible that you will be charged with DWI.
Defending Drugged Driving Charges
DWI is a highly defendable charge, however it is important to note that simply proving the medication was legally prescribed or purchased will not clear your name. You will need an attorney to craft a unique defense strategy that proves you were not in an intoxicated or impaired condition at the time of your arrest.
The Consequences of Drugged Driving
The penalties for a DWI conviction are serious–even if you were only under the influence of a prescription or OTC medication when you were arrested. DWI offenders who are convicted can face possible jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, probation, mandatory enrollment in DWI school, and a number of other consequences.
Have you been accused of drugged driving? If so, the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC can help. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have years of experience helping clients reach favorable outcomes in complex DWI cases. Call our office at 816-322-8008, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free consultation today.