Driving Under the Influence of Medication

Do you drive under the influence of drugs? You may instantly answer “no, of course not,” without considering the fact that it is illegal to drive under the influence of many common drugs, specifically many prescription medications. Driving under the influence, as we all know, can cause accidental injuries and put your life at risk. It is important to consider the implication of driving while taking many legal medications. It is also important to note that you are not safe from legal repercussions should you be pulled over or cause an accident. According to FindLaw.com, “Driving under the influence of drugs — including prescription medications as well as illegal drugs — can also result in DUI charges.” Here are some of these medications that will require you to be extra cautious:

Pain Relievers

Prescription pain medication comes with a warning label stating that it can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Your body is regulated by your nervous system. It’s your brain that sends pain signals that is sensed by your painful nerves. When you take a pain killer, it encumbers damaged cells to release a chemical, and your nerves get relaxed for a while which can cause you to feel drowsy. Be aware of how your body reacts to painkillers, and know that you are not safe from legal action if you are found to be under the influence of painkillers if pulled over or in the event of an accident.


If you are having an allergic reaction to something, the first instant is generally to go for Benedryl or a similar medication, as this has fantastic efficacy in fighting these reactions – however, it is very important to know how this effects your body before getting behind the wheel. Antihistamines can make many people incredibly drowsy and are likely not safe to take while driving.


This is a tricky one, as not all antidepressants are equal, and not all drugs effect every person in the same way. Antidepressants generally deal with a cortisol hormone and boost serotonin and dopamine. Both serotonin and dopamine hormones uplift your mood and relax your nerves. Some people may feel drowsy when on certain antidepressant medication.

Anti-Anxiety Medication

Anti-anxiety medication like Xanax and Valium work to calm the nerves of people who have various conditions of anxiety, which usually causes symptoms of increased heartrate, fluttery upset stomach and tightness of chest. These medications relax the central nervous system to treat these symptoms – but they can also often cause greatly increased drowsiness. Take extreme care when using prior to operating a motor vehicle.

Driving Laws in Arizona

You will likely be penalized if you’re caught driving under the influence of medication in Arizona. Please note that drugged driving in Arizona will be charged as driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. If convicted, your license will be revoked and you may serve jail time. If you are caught while driving under the influence:

  • You will be imprisoned for any period from 1 to 10 days.
  • A minimum $250 fine will be imposed.
  • You license will be revoked for any period from 90 to 360 days.

However, you must note that the penalty will increase significantly if you are caught a second time while driving under the influence within 84 months. In this case:

  • You will be imprisoned for any period from 30 to 90 days.
  • Penalty fee will at least double the fine charged first time.
  • License suspension period will be one year.


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