When we think of driving under the influence, we usually think of someone going to a bar, having a few too many shots, and trying to drive home. And it’s true, this is a common issue in South Florida. But there’s another cause of DUI that many people don’t consider:
From allergy medicines to painkillers, there are a variety of different medicines that can impact your ability to drive safely. They can either cause you to feel drowsy, high or otherwise incapacitated. When you drive under the influence of prescription drugs, even ones that are prescribed to you, you’re putting your life and the lives of others at risk.
Our Miami car accident lawyers have seen the deadly effects that driving under the influence of prescription drugs can have. As the opioid epidemic continues to escalate, more and more people hit the road after taking dangerous medication, legally or not.
It’s important to understand how certain medications affect your ability to drive, Florida’s laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs, and what you can do if you’re injured in a wreck with a driver who’s under the influence of prescription medication.
Medications that affect your ability to drive can be used to treat any number of issues, from allergies to anxiety to pain to the flu. Some of the most common that affect your driving ability include:
And more. It’s always important to discuss any potential side effects with your doctor when they’re prescribing new medicine to you. If your doctor says you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery after taking your medication, that includes driving a car.
If you can’t avoid driving, talk to your doctor about that, too. They may adjust your prescription to dictate when you should take the medicine, adjust the dose and/or change your treatment plan altogether.
For over-the-counter medications that can affect your ability to drive safely, like Benadryl, always read the warnings on the bottle and/or box it comes in. If there’s a risk for drowsiness or dizziness, or it will outright affect your ability to drive, heed these warnings. If you need to get somewhere after taking these kinds of medications, make plans to take an Uber, taxi or Miami’s public transit.
Florida has specific laws regarding operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, prescription or otherwise. Under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 316.193, a person is guilty of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI-D) if they are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of certain controlled substances or harmful chemicals.
Being in actual physical control means you have the capability of immediately operating the vehicle. This is a broad definition, meaning police officers can apply it in a variety of ways. For instance, if you are sitting in your car with the keys in the ignition, there’s a good chance an officer will make the assumption you intended to drive the vehicle — and that you had the capacity to immediately operate it.
It’s important to note that a “vehicle” doesn’t just refer to cars and trucks. Anything with a motor can be classified as a vehicle. This includes mopeds, dirt bikes, public electric scooters, and more. In some cases, you can even get a DUI while riding your bicycle — or a horse.
In short, just about anything you use to get from one point to another without walking can be considered a vehicle. And that means you can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs if you’re intoxicated while riding one.
If you’re involved in a car accident in Miami with a driver who’s under the influence of prescription medicine, the next steps are similar to any other car accident you may be involved in. Your first step is to call 911 and make sure an ambulance comes to the scene to provide medical treatment.
Be sure to give your statement to the police, and take photos at the scene. Photograph damage to the car, injuries, road conditions, weather conditions and more. You should also report the accident to your insurer (just don’t delve into the details of the accident). Keep up with any treatment your doctor prescribes.
The big difference when it comes to being in an accident with a driver who’s under the influence of prescription medication is that, in some cases, it can become a medical malpractice case. If the other driver’s doctor and/or pharmacist didn’t warn them about the potential side effects of their medicine, and therefore the driver didn’t know driving would be dangerous, medical professionals in charge of the other driver’s care could be held liable.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, whether the other driver was under the influence of prescription drugs or not, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, damage to your car, and more. At Steinger, Iscoe & Greene, our Miami car accident attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (786) 224-4330 or contact us online for your free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll discuss the details of your case at no cost to you and help you decide the best path forward.