Can I Face DUI Charges in Tennessee for Driving while on Prescription Pills?

Seasonal weather changes in Tennessee bring about allergies, colds, and flu. Many drivers take pills to treat them without realizing that some pills can expose them to DUI charges. Contrary to what many people think, Tennessee DUI law does not sanction only drivers who consume alcohol and illegal drugs, but anyone driving under the influence of substances that may affect the central nervous system, including prescription pills. There was even a case in California where someone was charged with DUI for drinking too much coffee. Those charges were eventually dropped, but the person was still arrested, had to go to jail, make a bond, and hire an attorney!

Tennessee DUI Law Overview

Can I Face DUI Charges in Tennessee for Driving while on Prescription Pills?Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-10-401 prohibits driving under the influence of intoxicants, marijuana, narcotic drugs, or drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. There are no blood-testing standards in place to determine conviction, so the law enforcement officers and the prosecutor assess the drivers’ level of intoxication on a case-by-case basis.

Having a prescription or not knowing what effects a drug may have will not help drivers escape DUI charges in Chattanooga. No matter the context, each driver taking drugs has the responsibility to read the patient package insert or ask a doctor or pharmacist about the drug’s potential to interfere with their driving skills and abilities.

The list of drugs that could make one responsible of Driving Under the Influence is quite comprehensive and includes even common over-the-counter medication used to treat colds, coughs, pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and even allergies. Most of these drugs have side effects like vertigo, fatigue, sleepiness, blurry vision, mood swings, and poor motor coordination, and their prospect warns that they may influence one’s driving ability.

However, it is not uncommon for a driver taking several “safe” drugs simultaneously to face DUI charges in Tennessee. The law and the authorities do not care how one ends up intoxicated as it is a strict liability crime, so drivers are liable regardless of whether they intended to impair themselves or not. Also, due to the “implied consent” DUI law, Tennessee drivers who refuse chemical tests risk the loss of driving privileges as well.

How Can Drivers Avoid Chattanooga DUI Charges?

There are several small, but important precautions drivers can take in order to avoid violating DUI laws. Here are some of them:

  • Not taking any drugs or supplements without consulting a physician – Drugs interact with various foods, drinks, and substances and may have side effects like those mentioned above. Dietary supplements are subject to much more permissive regulations than drugs and the information related to the effects of their use may be scarce or inaccurate. Discussing one’s treatment with a doctor is the best way to eliminate concerns and reduce the risk of facing DUI charges.
  • Buying all drugs and supplements from authorized distributors – Some drugs and supplements may be available at cheaper prices online. However, it is best to stick to reliable sources to avoid counterfeit products and make sure the drugs benefitted from adequate storage conditions. Also, buying drugs from the pharmacy gives one the chance to ask further questions regarding their impact on one’s driving ability.
  • Carefully reading the drugs’ patient package insert – The insert contains everything one needs to know about the respective drug, from ingredients, dosage, and therapeutic effects to side effects, contraindications, and interactions with other drugs.
  • Paying attention to drugs side effects – Drivers under treatment who feel dizzy, sleepy, unable to focus, or experience loss of balance and blurred vision should avoid getting behind the wheel. These side effects will affect their driving ability and turn them into a threat to themselves and to other traffic participants. Moreover, if the police stop them and submit them to blood tests, the results will most likely be positive.

Fight DUI Charges with the Help of a Reputable Chattanooga DUI Attorney

Drug-related DUI charges are the most difficult to fight, as courts do not accept arguments like “I didn’t know” or “I had a prescription”. The best thing drivers facing such charges can do is to consult a reputable Chattanooga DUI attorney. The latter may still be able to have charges dismissed or obtain a favorable verdict by turning to various defense strategies, such as:

  • Arguing that the police stopped the driver in traffic illegally and had no probable cause to request drug tests.
  • Questioning the results of the tests.
  • Showing that the police officers violated the driver’s rights, by failing to read Miranda rights, for example.

Consult with a Chattanooga DWI Attorney About Your Case

Are you or someone you know facing DUI charges in Hamilton County? Then you need to hire a reliable Chattanooga DUI attorney. At Best and Brock, we have helped thousands of drivers fight DUI charges. Attorneys, Andrea Hayd, k and Matt Brock are specially trained in Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and have certifications in Drug Recognition Expert training (DRE). Both of these certifications are the same courses specially trained officers are educated in.

We can help you too. Contact us now, and schedule a FREE consultation!