10 Prescription Drugs That Can Get You Arrested for DUI

October 21, 20220

Driving under the influence of drugs is against the law, and you can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) or driving while impaired (DWI). Many people do not know it, but there are prescription drugs that can get you arrested for DUI.

Prescription drugs and other drug treatment medications are commonly abused and lead to arrests across the country every year. With prescription drug abuse on the rise, knowing which prescription drugs that can get you arrested for DUI when driving a vehicle is important. 

The following are 10 common prescription drugs that can get you arrested for DUI, and which can affect your driving privilege.

1. Ibuprofen

Pain relievers like Advil should not be taken before driving. The obvious reason is that they contain opiates, like codeine and morphine, which can cause disorientation, euphoria, dizziness, and sleepiness.

Although there are over-the-counter medications that do not cause dizziness and drowsiness but have the same relieving effects, they can still impair one’s reaction times and coordination.

The explanation behind all this is simple. You spend so much energy dealing with pain. And when the pain subsides, so does your adrenalin, leaving you feeling exhausted. Sometimes, you feel so relieved that your coordination becomes off.

Thus, if your doctor prescribes pain relievers, let someone else drive your car. Better yet, take public transportation to avoid getting arrested for DUI.

2. Zolpidem (Ambien)

Ambien is a prescription drug that has been associated with impaired driving due to its central nervous system depressant properties. 

Even if you’re taking it according to your doctor’s orders, if you’re under the influence of Ambien and involved in an accident, you could be arrested for DUI. This means you can get in legal trouble and may need a DUI drug lawyer.

3. Hydrocodone/Oxycodone

Both of these opiate-based drugs are powerful painkillers that are often prescribed by doctors. The most common brand name for hydrocodone is Vicodin; other names include Norco, Lortab, and Zydone. 

Oxycodone, or Oxy, is a widely used narcotic that’s present in brand names like Percocet, Roxicet, and Endocet. While both drugs have legitimate medical uses, they can also be abused. In fact, statistics show that almost 215,000 prescriptions were written for oxycodone in 2016 alone! 

Taking either drug without a prescription can cause drowsiness, confusion, and impaired judgment. This makes it very easy to get behind the wheel after taking too many pills—even if you don’t feel intoxicated at all.

If you do get arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, your blood will be tested for signs of alcohol and any number of legal or illegal substances.

4. Codeine

Codeine is an opiate used in prescription pain relievers, cough syrups, and other medicines. It’s also a narcotic drug that can be highly addictive. 

When taken in high doses or mixed with alcohol or other drugs (including some over-the-counter medications), codeine can result in an altered state of consciousness that resembles drunkenness and makes you incapable of driving safely—and may even cause coma or death.

5. Alprazolam (Xanax)

This common benzodiazepine can slow down reaction time and significantly affect judgment. If you are prescribed Xanax, do not get behind the wheel of a car; it’s possible that even at low doses, your driving abilities will be impaired. 

The active ingredient in Xanax is alprazolam, but do not take other drugs containing alprazolam as well—it’s likely they will also impair your ability to drive safely.

6. Lorazepam (Ativan)

This sedative is commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, but it’s also used as a sleep aid and muscle relaxant. This drug can make it difficult for a driver to focus on driving, leading to an increased risk of accidents. 

If you’re prescribed Lorazepam (or similar drugs), don’t operate heavy machinery (like a vehicle) without consulting your doctor. Some offenders charged with a prescription drug DUI may be asked to get an interlock installation in their cars.

7. Naproxen

Naproxen is a member of a family of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. This class includes ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and other drugs that reduce inflammation and pain. 

It can impair your driving performance even if you’re not taking it to relieve an injury or ailment; it’s just one of those drugs that makes you drowsy.

The same goes for prescription sleep aids like Ambien, Lunesta, and Sonata—even if they don’t make you sleepy when taken as directed, they can make you drowsy when combined with alcohol.

8. Antidepressants

Antidepressants like Nefazodone and Trazodone can cause drowsiness and impair patient reaction times. And when you are on the road driving your car, two to three seconds of microsleep could mean a lot.

Other antidepressants like Celexa and Prozac can cause insomnia, which makes you feel slow and tired. When combined with alcohol, the effects can heighten. 

So, consider holding off driving, especially if you have just started taking an antidepressant. 

9. Tramadol 

Tramadol, a centrally-acting analgesic, is used to treat moderate to severe pain. It may also be used post-surgically or in emergency situations. The drug can impair motor skills and judgment and should not be taken while operating machinery or driving. 

The active ingredient of tramadol hydrochloride is an opioid (narcotic) that can cause serious side effects, including seizures, hallucinations, and even coma if too much of it is taken at once.

In addition to being addictive, tramadol can cause drowsiness and dizziness as well as nausea and constipation when taken on an empty stomach.

10. Stimulants

Many think drinking stimulants like Red Bull are okay to take before driving. However, that is a big no-no.

Stimulants may cause you to pay less attention to details. And it can cause you to be more energetic than usual, affecting your ability to concentrate. 

When combined with alcohol, you may experience the worst of both worlds.

Final Thoughts on Prescription Drugs That Can Get You Arrested for DUI

Many people don’t realize that some prescription drugs can make you just as impaired as alcohol—and possibly more so—making it extremely dangerous to drive after taking them, even if you feel fine. This list of the top 10 prescription drugs that can get you arrested for DUI will help keep you and others safe on the road.

 About the Author

Lauren Kunis is the Content Marketing Strategist for Stonewall Institute, an outpatient alcohol and drug treatment center that focuses on a holistic, individualized approach to addiction recovery. She loves reading books, traveling, and going on hiking adventures with her dog Max.


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