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Can driving while on painkillers get me in trouble?

When people talk about driving under the influence of drugs, they often think of street drugs. However, medicines that your doctor lawfully prescribes to you could also get you arrested. In New Jersey, driving under the influence of drugs is illegal, and that includes prescription drugs that are classified as narcotics, which doctors prescribe often to treat pain, among others.


OcyContin or Methadone, for example, are two of types of narcotics that can get you in trouble if the drug is in your system when you are driving. Doctors can prescribe these drugs legally to their patients as a painkiller or sedative. Still, some of their side effects are sleepiness, drowsiness and blurred vision, which can seriously impair a person's ability to drive.

Driving under the influence of drugs

The New Jersey Supreme Court considers an individual to be driving under the influence of a narcotic drug if the drug has an effect that can alter a person's physical and mental faculties, which many of these prescription painkiller drugs do. You don't need to be addicted to the drug, or even take it consistently for the police to arrest you and the state to charge you for driving under the influence. All it takes is one time. The crime of driving under the influence (DUI) is governed by the same statute that governs the crime of driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you are driving under the influence of any drug that impairs your ability to drive and the police pulls you over because they suspect you are driving under the influence, they can ask you to take a field test or a psychological test, as well as a urine test. Failing any of these could get you arrested and charged for driving under the influence of drugs.

Talk to your doctor

It is critical to remember that many of these drugs remain in your system for a long time after taking them. Suppose your doctor prescribes you medication to treat pain, and that medication can impair your driving ability. In that case, you should not drive. If your doctor prescribes any of these drugs you must talk to them about how and if it could affect your ability to drive safely. New Jersey takes safe driving very seriously, which is why you should be aware of the state's driving laws and make sure that you abide by them.

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