Everyone knows that driving a car or boat after drinking alcohol or doing illegal drugs is against the law. But people may not realize that they can still be arrested for driving with certain legal prescription medications in their system. In order to keep yourself and others on the road safe – and avoid the severe legal consequences of a DUI conviction – it’s important to know which prescription medications to avoid taking right before you have to get behind the wheel.
What constitutes a DUI?
South Carolina law defines the crime of driving under the influence as driving with any drug or substance in your system that impairs your mental faculties. In other words, even if a medication is legal, if it slows your reaction times, limits your ability to reason or otherwise impairs you, you shouldn’t drive after taking it until its effects have totally worn off.
An obvious example of an over-the-counter medication that would be dangerous to consume before driving would be sleep medication designed to make you drowsy. But sometimes medications can have unintended side-effects that produce dizziness, nausea or other conditions that are equally unsafe to drive under.
Since everyone’s body reacts differently to medication, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive list of drugs to avoid before driving. When you receive a new medication, make sure you understand how it affects your body so that you can make a prudent decision about whether or not it’s safe to take before driving.
What are South Carolina’s DUI penalties?
Every state has its own penalties for driving while under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Under South Carolina law, the penalties get progressively worse for each subsequent offense.
The first time you receive a DUI conviction, you’ll have to pay a fine of $400 and spend between 48 hours and 30 days in jail, depending on the circumstances. For each subsequent conviction, the fine and jail time both increase considerably.
Refusing to take a drug test when the police pull you over is also against the law. If you refuse to let them test you, you can have your drivers’ license temporarily suspended.
Having a DUI on your record can have severe consequences for many aspects of your life. It’s important to understand the kinds of substances that can earn you one, so that you can keep yourself – and other drivers and pedestrians – safe, and so that you can avoid the fines, jail time and license suspension that come with a DUI.