If you are stopped for driving under the influence and the law enforcement officer performs a field sobriety test and you fail, it is highly likely you will be arrested on the spot. In North Carolina, if you are 21 years or older and your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or above, you are legally impaired. If you are under 21 years of age and have any alcohol in your bloodstream, then you are legally impaired and should not be driving as the state has a no tolerance policy in place for underage drinking.
There are also times where you may not have been drinking but legal medications you are taking can affect your ability to pass field sobriety tests. To avoid situations like this, there are things you should be aware of.
Read all instructions and labeling
Before you take any prescription medication, make sure you understand the labeling and the instructions. If the medication says you should not be driving or operating heavy machinery after taking it for several hours, then you should not be behind the wheel. If you absolutely must drive, be sure that you understand how the medication affects you. Never drive if it is the first time you have taken the medication.
Some medicines can also affect motor skills, including judgement, response time, strength and coordination, all of which are necessary to drive safely. Field sobriety tests often use coordination, balance and focus to determine if you should be operating a vehicle, so certain medications can produce a false negative. Certain drugs also cause the blood to absorb alcohol faster, so it takes lower levels of alcohol to become intoxicated.
Avoid certain medications when driving
Some prescription medications should never be used while you are driving or operating any type of machine. This includes stimulants; painkillers with narcotics; sleeping pills; sedatives; and cold, flu and allergy medication that make you drowsy. Some diabetes medications can also affect your ability to operate a vehicle safely.
If you have taken a certain medication and are unaware of how the side effects will decrease your ability to pass a field sobriety test, you may have reasonable doubt when it comes to proving you were at fault.
Protecting your future is vital whenever you are charged with a crime. The most important thing you can do if you are arrested for DUI, whether you were drinking or just under the treatment of legal, prescription medication, is to consult with an experienced attorney immediately.