Effects of Prescription Drugs on Field Sobriety Tests

DUI or driving under the influence is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in the United States. People often associate it with alcohol intoxication. It is not surprising, as it is the most common factor in the charges. However, illegal narcotics and prescription drugs can also lead to DUI accusations.

Many individuals wouldn’t knowingly drive under the influence. The problem is, most of them have no idea medications can affect their driving skills. If you take any prescription drugs, you should be aware of possible consequences of operating a vehicle after consuming them.

Medications come with instructions, and you should read them carefully. Some of them advise you not to drive after taking them. However, obeying this might be difficult if you take prescription drugs on a regular basis. Even a trace amount remaining in your system might be enough for the police officer to charge you with DUI.

Medications and their side effects

Many prescription drugs can have an influence on your driving skills. They can slow down your reaction time, and affect your focus when on the road. Some of them include confusion, breathing issues, blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, delayed reaction time, nausea, hallucinations, overactive reflexes, weakness, and sleep problems. Each of them can lead to an accident.


You should read labels carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects. Make sure you are familiar with consequences of your medications before sitting behind the wheel. Some of the prescription drugs that are often involved in DUI charges include Adderall, Codeine, Diazepam, Hydrocodone, Lorazepam, Oxycodone, and Vicodin.

Keep in mind that two or more medications might interact with each other, although they have no side effects on their own. A combination of prescription drugs can cause unexpected reactions. If you are taking more than one, you should discuss it with your pharmacist or doctor, just to be sure they won’t have an influence on your driving ability. The penalties for driving under the influence of medications are the same as for drunk driving. That’s why you should know everything about the ones you are taking and their interactions. If you, by any chance, get charged with driving under the influence, you should hire a DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Medications and Field Sobriety Tests

Methods that police officers employ to determine whether a driver is under the influence or not include walking and turning in a different direction, nystagmus, standing on one leg, reciting the alphabet and touching the finger to the nose. They are based on the concept of divided attention. It occurs when a person has to concentrate on more than one thing at the same time.

In ideal conditions, field sobriety tests evaluate the same physical and mental capabilities that an individual needs to drive. They include short-term memory, information processing, decision making, clear vision, muscle control, steadiness, and coordination of the limbs. The problem is, if you are taking medications that can cause dizziness, it can be difficult to stand on one leg, and turn in a different direction. Reciting the alphabet is also hard if your prescription drugs can lead to confusion. Nystagmus can misinterpret your delayed reaction time as being under the influence. These sobriety tests are not perfect even if you are not using medications. They often depend on the subjective opinion of a police officer. If they charge you with DUI, you should contact a drunk driving attorney as soon as possible. A professional will discuss your situation, and choose the best defense for your case.