Skip to Content

DUI Prescription Drugs


There has been a recent trend among police to arrest people for a DUI when all the person had taken was some prescription drugs with no significant evidence of impaired driving.  In fact, in most cases, there was no vehicle code violation.  However, the prosecution must prove impaired driving when a defendant is charged with DUI Prescription Drugs.

Many people think that because they were actually prescribed the medication by a doctor that it means they cannot be charged with a DUI.  However, California Vehicle Code Section 23630 provides that it is not a defense to the charge of DUI that the defendant had a prescription or otherwise legally used an over-the-counter, non-prescription drug.

For a conviction based in whole or part on drug use, the drug must be a substance or combination of substances other than alcohol that can impair driving to an appreciable degree and it must be proved that the defendant was in fact impaired by that drug.

Due to the very difficult burden on the Prosecution to prove driving impairment based on drugs, it is important to determine the levels of the drugs in the bloodstream at or near the time of driving.  This can be done by having a sample of the blood retested by an independent laboratory.  By doing so, you can more easily determine whether your client's levels of the drugs in his/her system are at, below, or above therapeutic ranges, and possibly whether your client was impaired at the time of driving.

Whether or not a drug is one which is capable of impairing driving to an appreciable degree, and whether or not the evidence in any particular case shows a blood level of the drug that could impair driving, are matters of expert opinion.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for and charged with a DUI involving prescription medication, you should contact an experienced Orange County DUI Attorney immediately to discuss your options.

Scott D. Hughes can be contacted at 714-423-6928 or at

Share To: