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Impairment by legal drugs can result in a DUI

Most people associate DUIs with driving under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal drugs. However, drivers can be charged with DUI if any kind of drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, are determined to have impaired their driving.

The definition of what legally constitutes a drug for DUI purposes is generally broad. In one recent case in California, a driver was actually charged with a DUI when there was nothing in his system stronger than caffeine (although that case was eventually dropped.)

We've all seen (and too often ignored) warnings on drug packaging about the potential side effects of a medication that make it unsafe to drive while taking it. The most common one is drowsiness. However, legal drugs can cause a multitude of other symptoms that can impair a person's ability to drive. These include:

-- Dizziness-- Blurred vision-- Inability to focus-- Slowing of movements-- Nausea

Sometimes people can take one type of medication without becoming impaired, but if they mix that medication with another one or with alcohol (even a small amount), the impact on their senses can be significant. If you are taking a medication for the first time or adding a new medication, it's best not to drive until you know how your medications will affect you.

If you get pulled over for suspected DUI, it's best to respectfully decline to answer the officer's questions. Many DUI convictions involving legal drugs occur because drivers told law enforcement what drugs he or she had taken -- perhaps thinking that the fact that they were prescription or over-the-counter drugs would get them off the hook. That's why it's important not to volunteer any information and to ask to call a Connecticut criminal defense attorney if you are placed under arrest.

Source: Findlaw, "You Can Get a DUI on Legal Drugs," accessed Jan. 26, 2017

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