Question: Can I be charged with impaired driving in Maryland if I only took a medication that is prescribed to me?
Answer: Yes. And it happens often. That’s why whenever you get a prescription that can impair or does impair, it usually says something like, “be careful with motor vehicles,” you know, or, “may cause drowsiness” or may cause whatever the issue is. I’d say a majority of driving while impaired by drugs are often prescribed medications.
Now, it is, it can be somewhat hard for the state to prove that someone is actually impaired by a medication that they normally take. One way to do that would be a blood draw where they would prove that there’s a certain number of, certain amount of say Xanax or alprazolam or any prescribed medication, any opiate medication. So it is hard, it is hard for the state to prove those cases, especially if it’s prescribed. But, yes, you can get a DUI.
We saw a string of DUIs, and some of the scariest DUIs we get are Ambien DUIs, where a person has taken an Ambien, say, to take a nap, and then they wake up in the police station. So we’ve had a lot of issues where someone causes multiple car accidents, doesn’t even remember getting into the car, but you know, they took it and they took it as they’re supposed to, but they shouldn’t, you know, they took it during the day and for some reason got up and sleepwalked into the car and drove.
So, yes, you can absolutely get a DUI on medication that you’re prescribed. You have to use it the way you’re supposed to use it, but anything can actually impair you. You know, if it’s any medication that does affect eyesight or drowsiness or anything like that—we also get a lot of people who end up with DUIs as a result of pain pills, sometimes they mix them with other things, and you just don’t know how your body will react. So, if you are impaired by a substance that would be considered a drug, whether it’s prescribed or not, the state just needs to prove the impairment and prove that you have a certain amount of the substance in.
It is hard for them to prove a prescription case, because the mere presence of it doesn’t prove that you were impaired. But, they can do so, but they would need a scientist or toxicologist to say, for example, what level of Xanax in the system would prove impairment. And they try to do that with a DRE as well, which is a drug recognition expert. There’s very good ways to attack a DRE report. It’s not really all that scientific, so. But you can get a DUI by taking medication that you are prescribed.