Can I Get Arrested and Charged for DUI in Illinois For Driving on Prescribed Pain Medication?

Driving under the influence (DUI) typically brings to mind the image of someone driving after consuming alcohol or illegal drugs. However, in Illinois, as in many other states, you can also be arrested and charged with a DUI for operating a vehicle under the influence of legally prescribed medications. Illinois law is clear—any substance that impairs your ability to drive safely can lead to a DUI charge, including prescription pain medications and certain over-the-counter drugs.

Under Illinois DUI Law 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(4), a person is guilty of a DUI if they are in control of a vehicle and are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, chemical substances, or controlled substances to the extent that their normal faculties are impaired. This includes a wide range of medications prescribed for pain, anxiety, or other medical conditions that can impair motor skills, reaction times, and cognitive functions.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications That Could Lead to a DUI

A variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications can impair a driver enough to result in a DUI charge. Common types of medications that might impair driving include opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax, Valium), sleep medications such as Ambien, and even some antihistamines. It’s important to understand that just because a medication is legally prescribed does not exempt a driver from being charged with a DUI if the medication impairs their driving.

Physicians typically warn patients about the risks associated with driving while on these medications. However, the responsibility ultimately lies with the driver to understand how a medication affects their ability to safely operate a vehicle. Even common medications like cold and allergy treatments can have side effects such as drowsiness or delayed reaction times, which can impair driving ability.

The Arrest Process and Chemical Testing

The process of being arrested for a DUI while on prescription medication generally follows the same procedure as any other DUI arrest. If a law enforcement officer suspects that you are impaired while driving, regardless of whether by alcohol or drugs, they will pull you over. Officers may observe signs of impairment such as slurred speech, inability to focus, dilated pupils, and poor motor coordination.

If an officer suspects drug impairment, they may conduct field sobriety tests and request a blood or urine test to check for the presence of drugs. Illinois’ implied consent law means that if you drive in Illinois, you have implicitly agreed to submit to these chemical tests. Refusal to submit to a blood or urine test can result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license and other penalties.

DUI Criminal Case Process in Illinois

The DUI criminal case process in Illinois begins with the arrest, followed by booking and an arraignment where the charges are formally read. If prescription drugs are involved, the prosecution must prove that these substances impaired the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. This often involves expert testimony regarding the effects of the specific medication on the driver at the time of the arrest.

Following arraignment, the case may proceed to pre-trial motions, where issues such as the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of chemical tests might be contested. If the case is not dismissed or settled, it moves to trial where the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was impaired. Throughout this process, a skilled Illinois DUI defense attorney can challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution, negotiate plea deals, or represent the accused at trial.

Call For Your Free Consultation With Attorney David L. Freidberg

If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Illinois due to the effects of prescription or over-the-counter medications, it is crucial to seek knowledgeable legal representation immediately. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg are well-equipped to handle such cases, providing experienced legal counsel to ensure the best possible outcome. With a proven track record in defending DUI cases across Chicago and Illinois, our firm understands the complexities of DUI charges related to prescription medications.

For a free consultation 24/7, please contact us at (312) 560-7100 or toll-free at (800) 803-1442. We serve clients throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Will County, and Lake County. Don’t let a DUI charge disrupt your life—let us help you navigate through this challenging time with expert legal care.

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