Perhaps you take a sleeping pill to help you get a good night’s sleep, or perhaps you recently sustained an injury and take pain medication to cope. You know that these drugs may give you side effects that affect your balance and cognitive ability, but you have not noticed any real changes. Unfortunately, one evening after taking your medications, you decide to get in your vehicle to run an errand.
Many individuals that take these types of muscle relaxants or sleep aids do not know the risks of driving while on prescription medication. Not only can you injure yourself or another driver, an officer can arrest and charge you with a DWAI (Driving With Ability Impaired) in the state of New York. Due to your impaired state, a court may find that you drove under the influence and risked the safety of other individuals. It is essential that, if you face conviction for a DWAI due to taking your necessary medication, you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you avoid any serious DWAI penalties.
Prescription medication side effects
Prescription medication commonly affects your body in the following ways.
- An inability to concentrate
- Tiredness or loss of conscious reasoning
- Slurred words
- Loss of mobility
These side effects will noticeably affect an individual’s ability to drive. Should an officer pull you over for your inability to stay in your lane, driving without your lights on or not abiding speed limit signs, he or she may believe you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Unfortunately, the penalties for DWAI convictions in New York remain the same whether you prove to be drunk or driving under prescription medication. Penalties include:
- A fine of $500 to $1,000
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A suspended driver’s license for 6 months or more
When facing the possibility of a DWAI charge, you must speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Criminal defense attorneys understand the effects that fines and a suspended license may have on an individual, and he or she can help provide ways for you to avoid serious convictions.