The Opioid Epidemic and Drunk Driving Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama. According to the New York Times, more than 33,000 people died due to the opioid epidemic in 2015. According to the Times, overdose deaths have almost equaled the number of people who have died from car accidents. And yet, the opioid epidemic may also be contributing to the number of car accidents. According to U.S.A. Today, researchers have seen a sevenfold increase in the number of drivers killed due to prescription opioids.

Many drivers may not have been warned by their doctors against driving before being prescribed these drugs. Individuals have been found to be driving under the influence of prescription morphine, oxycodone, and morphine and they may not be aware of the risks of driving while under the influence of these drugs. According to the New York Times, it appears that campaigns to stop drivers from drinking and driving have worked. However, in the place of DUI convictions, municipalities are seeing more cases of individuals driving while under the influence of drugs.

Individuals may not always understand how their prescription medications can affect them behind the wheel. Worse, if an individual becomes addicted to these drugs and abuses them, their impairment behind the wheel could increase. Some individuals may take multiple drugs at one time or mix these drugs with alcohol, thus compounding their effects.

Unlike drunk driving where there are clear state standards on what constitutes drunk driving, there are no standards for what constitutes drugged driving. How much is too much? Can a person be charged for taking drugs they were prescribed by a doctor?

To make matters more complicated, prescription drugs can impact each person differently. A doctor may prescribe you a dose in which it is generally safe to drive, but that dose may affect you more strongly. Some anti-anxiety drugs, for instance can slow down a person’s reaction time. However, each person may be slowed down differently and it can be hard to judge how high a dose can impact a person’s driving ability.

Unlike illegal drugs, where the state can press charges against you for having any amount in your bloodstream, prescription drugs are legal. Furthermore, like marijuana, some kinds of prescription drugs can remain in your bloodstream or be detectible in your body long after they have lost their effects.

If an officer suspects that you have been driving while impaired or while under the influence of drugs, you could face arrest, the loss of your driver’s license, and even the loss of your vehicle. If you are charged with impaired driving, it could impact your driving record and result in other penalties. In some cases, individuals even face prison time if they hurt or killed someone during an accident.

Unfortunately, officers sometimes press charges against people who were taking medication as directed. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between someone who is following doctor’s orders and someone who is abusing drugs. If you are facing charges for drunk driving or driving while under the influence, you need Shockley & Ransom: Attorneys at Law. Our drunk driving defense lawyers in Birmingham, Alabama can review your medical history, prescriptions, and the circumstances of your arrest to fight for your rights. The opioid epidemic has affected countless families. However, many individuals with cancer or other diseases continue to require the use of painkillers and should not have to suffer because of others’ choice to abuse these drugs. Visit us at to learn more about how you can protect your rights.


By | 5:21 pm | Categories: Legal News | 0 Comments

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